Libertarian Success in New Hampshire

 

About 20 years ago, a group of Libertarians realized, quite reasonably, that their numbers were too dispersed to be effective. If they concentrated in a smaller, less-populated state, they had a chance of wielding real political power (instead of being spoilers who helped left-wing Democrats win elections). They chose New Hampshire and began a movement to establish a kind of Libertarian homeland. At first, the establishment ignored them. Then it laughed at them. Then it fought them.  Then they won. (Sort of.)

As of 2021, there are more than 5,000 Free Staters in New Hampshire. Despite their small numbers, they have built a well-funded and organized political apparatus that has elected roughly 45 Republicans to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The libertarians vote as a bloc that, with a slim majority, the party can’t do without. 

Washington Monthly portrays this as horror story.

With Free Staters at their back, Republicans this year have cut taxes in the already income-tax-less state, banned critical race theory and late-term abortions, and launched what’s likely the most sweeping education voucher program in the nation. … This June, the legislature passed a $13.5 billion budget for the next two years, cutting nearly $300 million from Sununu’s original proposal. Onto the budget they tacked a ban on abortions beyond 24 weeks (unless to save the mother’s life); the aforementioned ban on “divisive” race education in schools; a program creating “education freedom accounts” (essentially vouchers) that redirect public school money to private schools and homeschooling; and a raft of tax cuts.

There is nothing there I find objectionable.

Under House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, a Free State mover, anti-authority libertarians have joined with anti-elite populists to shoot down anything that smacks of expertise or specialized knowledge.

That would be the same “expertise and specialized knowledge” that lost Afghanistan, turned a relatively moderate pandemic into an economic and social catastrophe, engineered the 2008 mortgage collapse into a government-financial industry “too big to fail” monstrosity, and ran the country into $30 trillion in debt. It takes a lot of highly “specialized knowledge” to get to “$3.5 trillion in spending costs 0” and “there will be less crime if we cut the police and let the criminals out of jail.”

We would probably be better off with more common sense and less “specialized knowledge.”

Recently, a joint House-Senate committee tabled its acceptance of $6.3 million in federal funds for addiction counseling in the opioid-ravaged state, with members saying they needed to see proof that counseling even works. 

Whoa! You mean … they wanted evidence that something worked before they spent millions of dollars on it? How antithetical to everything the Uniparty stands for. The Washington Monthly feigns concern that Libertarians have too much influence over the Republican Party in New Hampshire. It sounds to me like it’s just about right. 

The Libertarian Party in most times and places is not a serious political movement. It’s more like a clique where everybody tries to outdo everyone else in demonstrating how opposed to centralized government they are. Most Libertarian attempts to go mainstream are a complete disaster. Gary Johnson’s 2016 presidential run comes to mind, when he decided that it was consistent with Libertarian principles for the state to force bakers to participate in gay weddings, otherwise religious factions would be free to murder each other (which sounds like something a college stoner would come up with after three bong hits). The Libertarians in New Hampshire seem to have succeeded … mainly … in forcing the state Republican Party to live up to its stated principles of smaller government, protection for the sanctity of life, and school choice.

Someone had to, I guess.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’m so glad you’ve written about this. I admire the Free Staters tremendously. They give me hope. :-) 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I hadn’t heard about this development, VTK–outstanding work they’ve done in NH. Maybe the next time they can organize in one or two other small states and do their work. Thanks for telling us about this work!

    • #2
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Why is it that New Hampshire and Vermont have such different politics?

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Why is it that New Hampshire and Vermont have such different politics?

    I have part of an answer to that, from an old guy I once rode the bus with from Manchester to Boston. Awesome bus companion.

    I asked him why Massachusetts was so different from New Hampshire. He said it was because New Hampshire was developed by people with an economics philosophy that was radically different from the philosophies of the people who developed Massachusetts. He said the differences became contentious in the late 1700s and remained so throughout the 1800s.  The executive leadership of New Hampshire came from the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth economics departments.

    New Hampshire was populated by a lot of people who were very unhappy with the direction Massachusetts was taking politically and economically.

    The same is true of Vermont. A lot of Vermont was settled by liberals from Connecticut and New York, not New Hampshire. It is not at all like New Hampshire or even Massachusetts. Of course, Vermont was staunchly Republican–lots of independent farmers–until about twenty years ago when the University of Vermont in Burlington became the dominant influence in the state.

    It’s an interesting history.

    • #4
  5. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    My first thought after reading this: “How do I get me some of that ‘Free State Project’ stuff here in North Carolina?”

    My second thought…I recommend this strongly for promotion to the Main Feed.

    • #5
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    My first thought after reading this: “How do I get me some of that ‘Free State Project’ stuff here in North Carolina?”

     

    It would certainly beat walling off the Research Triangle and deciding all elections in the state without their votes. 

     

    • #6
  7. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    I was hanging out with the NH free states last year for Porcfest. I liked what I saw.

    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Is there a single university town that can be a magnet for turning New Hampshire progressive?

    • #8
  9. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    My first thought after reading this: “How do I get me some of that ‘Free State Project’ stuff here in North Carolina?”

     

    It would certainly beat walling off the Research Triangle and deciding all elections in the state without their votes.

    Why not do both?

    • #9
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Victor Tango Kilo: they tacked a ban on abortions beyond 24 weeks (unless to save the mother’s life)

    Conservatives really need to learn how to talk about this. If you need to “save a mother’s life” after 24 weeks, there’s a chance somewhere along the line you can do it without killing the baby. If it’s not your intent to kill the baby, but the baby dies anyway, that’s not an “abortion.” They should call this “pre-term delivery,” not “abortion.” Legalize “pre-term delivery” to “save a mother’s life.” Not “abortion.”

    Abortion is definitionally the intent to kill.

    Otherwise this post seems like very good news. And it’s always enjoyable when you irritate the Left. 

    • #10
  11. Max Admin
    Max
    @Max

    Not sure I would attribute all this to free staters. 

    So, first of all, I have to address, sort of off topic, the first paragraph of the Washington Monthly article, which references Rep. Bill Marsh (D-Brookfield). Bill used to be an extremely squishy Republican, and he is actually one of my state representatives (I have 3 total). I know Bill. I used to play darts with Bill. I still play darts in the group. Bill won’t come because most of us are not vaccinated, and won’t wear masks. His big beef for the last year has been that Republicans who don’t wear masks are responsible for killing “his friend” Speaker of the House Dick Hinch. Hinch was found dead in his home last December a day after mentioning that he had a cold. The medical examiner announced that Hinch had COVID when he died. But he was also clinically obese and over the age of 70. (those are just facts.) And he died suddenly, at home. I have never, ever heard of anyone dying quickly from COVID like that. So Bill blames Republicans because there was a house session a number of days before hand where some Republicans didn’t wear masks. Outside. It was outside. It was outside in late November, with temperatures in the low 40s, which isn’t bad unless you’re sitting outside for 5 or 6 hours. There’s no evidence that Hinch caught COVID at the House session (there were no reports of other House members or employees also getting COVID). Also there’s no evidence that masks actually work (because people don’t wear them correctly). So Bill’s a hypocrite because he played darts with us through 2020 and none of us ever wore masks. The last time he came to darts was a couple weeks before Hinch’s death. Bill then went on MSNBC to say that Republicans are anti-science and had blood on their hands. The fact is that his wife is a liberal and he’s always been squishy.

    Sorry for that slightly off topic digression. Also, Bill is not from Wolfeboro, as Washington Monthly reports. He’s from Brookfield. So that lack of a really basic fact check certainly casts a shadow on the rest of Washington Monthly’s conclusions.

    “Free Stater” has become an insult lobbed at any Republican who moves to New Hampshire. I’ve been called a Free Stater quite a few times by Leftists. I’m not a Libertarian, I didn’t move to the state because of the Free State Project.

    With Free Staters at their back, Republicans this year have cut taxes in the already income-tax-less state, banned critical race theory and late-term abortions, and launched what’s likely the most sweeping education voucher program in the nation.

    Republicans did not ban Critical Race Theory, unfortunately. They banned “divisive concepts.” They had to water down the language because the RINO govervor, Chris Sununu, supports Critical Race Theory, and Black Lives Matter. Last year, Sununu had emergency orders in effect that banned church services, but praised Black Lives Matter and encouraged Black Lives Matter marches. He threatened to veto a ban on Critical Race Theory, defending it as “free speech.”

    Sununu also opposed the ban on abortions after 24 weeks. The law before that allowed abortions up to the moment of birth. Sununu has said he wants to revisit the issue, because he is pro-abortion. He has always been openly pro-abortion. Republicans forced him to sign the abortion and “divisive concepts” legislation by attaching them to the state budget. 

    The education freedom accounts, championed by my other state representative, Glenn Cordelli, who’s on the House Education Committee, is great, but it is only for lower income families. So it is helping some people, but it is limited in its scope. Glenn is a real Republican, a solid conservative. He moved here from Connecticut. Does Washington Monthly consider Glenn part of the “roughly 45 Republicans” supposedly elected by the Free State Project?

    I think the “roughly 45” refers to the House Freedom Caucus. 

    And as popular Republican Governor Chris Sununu eyes a 2022 U.S. Senate run, he may remember that a Free Stater, Aaron Day, is often credited with spoiling the 2016 Senate race for Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.

    Day’s not the reason that Ayotte lost. (Hassan had only 1,017 votes over her.) Ayotte lost because she stabbed Trump in the back three weeks before the election. She publicly called on him to drop out of the race, which really pissed off a lot of Republicans. Also, the real voter fraud in NH is out of state college students who are allowed to vote. There are way more than 1,000 out of state college students who vote. 

    Anyway, Sununu has announced he’s not running for U.S. Senate. He’s completely unreliable. A RINO, pro-abortion, pro-racism. Steve Bannon called him the “personification of the swamp” the other day, and he’s right. 

    I don’t think the Free State Project is anything more than a boogey man for the Left. 

    Sorry this comment was so long.

     

     

    • #11