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Author Topic: Why 20K is overkill, and a mere 2K or so would work miracles  (Read 10716 times)


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Starting this thread to answer the question raised elsewhere, inspired by my sig line.  I'm locking the thread to prevent hijacking.  Questions/Comments sent via private msg which are FAQs will be added as needed.  This is a work in progress, and I welcome feedback on it.

Why 20K is overkill

This isn't a new idea, and I don't claim credit for it.  I'm merely one proponent of it, and have taken to promoting it.  I know many in the FSP leadership realm agree with this, but it's not official FSP 'policy' (yet)

When Jason put his numbers together, and came up with 20K, they were based on projections and assumptions.  One of the assumptions was 1 million residents.  Another was that the activist threshold needed to trigger change, based on other real world places (like Quebec), would be around 2% (or 20,000 for 1,000,000 residents).  That number was meant to be a reasonable goal, and picking NH was an issue for some because it was (slightly) over 1 million already.

But Jason's theory has now inspired the reality.  As people have moved, even with just over 100 'officially' (and the unofficial numbers higher, as I know for a fact of at least a dozen movers who aren't FSP signers), we now have some real world numbers and results here in NH.  Nothing directly contradicts Jason's theory, mind you.  Perhaps for a complete 'free state', we will need 20K activists... but so far, the threshold is looking far less.

Manchester's the largest city, 100K people.  One local activist there tells me that a scant few dozen, who work together, could move mountains.  He's working with local activists/groups that are unfocused, contentious, and unable to see the bigger picture, and they are still well on the way to achieving items like a city charter amendment, because the native support for smaller & less expensive government is there, and only needs to be tapped by those willing to work toward the issue.

In Keene (22K people), a vote to sell a school building was strongly influenced by a half dozen activists.

In Merrimack (25K), a free stater ran for the first time for a minor elective office, and while he lost, in a 3 way run for 2 seats against 2 well known local 'names', he lost by only 11 votes after 3300+ votes.

In Concord, the state capital,  those of us getting involved in state level politics are getting an education of the first order.  We are discovering a thirst for our viewpoint.   Hearings we've spoken up, and bills we've fought for, or against, have had results ranging from getting thanked for the fresh and reasonable perspective of smaller government (often unheard otherwise) to influencing killing bad bills either in committee or on the floor of the House.  Access to this level of government is easy in NH, and many of us are familar faces already in the corridors of the State House.

I could continue adding places and items, but the message is clear: a scant handful is already showing the boat can be rocked.
We don't need a 'free town', a majority in a county, or anything else smacking of 'take over', because we fit the native sentiments well already.   

The biggest problem seems to be a lack of activists, tapping a largely silent but substantial percentage.  Is it a majority?
Perhaps not, but it's certainly one of the vastly untapped gold mine political veins left in this country...  We aren't preaching to the wind, and we've found more support than we've expected so far.

The existing native activists are glad of the fresh blood and bodies and spirit, and even with just the 100+ now, we're having a positive effect on the old hands, and learning the insider issues from them.  Imagine having dozens and hundreds of people willing to organize and take on tasks that right now end up overwhelming the few...

Estimates are that the major parties have a few thousand hardcore activists.  Unlike popular sentiment (and the Nolan chart), I've found that in NH, both personal and economic freedoms are more strongly valued by the Republicans here... with a strong libertarian wing in the minority.  Imagine another 2 or 3 thousand working explicitly for liberty issues, regardless of party.... What could be done?

What can you do?  Move now.  Don't wait for 20K.  We don't need 20K.  2K would do a lot.  200 would do twice what our 100 do now... and we're doing a great deal already.


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One year later
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2006, 01:28:29 pm »

It's a bit over a year later.  It's very clear still, the above is not only true, but even an understatement.  1K of activists might do it.*

See for one list of various 'wins'.  That list is likely short at least another half dozen 'silent' items in which people were involved behind the scenes, or which aren't really big media promoted wins, but where having active people did make the difference.

*Added: I mention above that it's not "official FSP policy (yet)".  I'd be remiss to not mention that the First 1000 approach is based on this idea.
So the "(yet)" part has came true as well in the last year.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2006, 06:33:26 pm by SethCohn »


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5 years later
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2010, 04:45:40 pm »

So, a follow up, it's 5 years later now, June 2010.  Wow, 5 years later.  Time flies when you're having fun, and life happens.

Is this still true?  Would 2K work miracles?  How much will 1K do?

Yes, it's still true, but I need to caveat it a bit.  One assumption in the above was that most of the 2K would be politically active.
For better or worse, many of the 800+ movers right now aren't willing to do political activism.  Many are willing to do activism, and they are being active in many other manners, but not via political means.  Some pride themselves on apoliticalness, some even on anti-politicalness.  We will see in the long run how effective that is at making change happen in the direction they'd like to see.  But the above was written with political solutions in mind, and I still believe that's true.  2K of political activists, as I described.

So we're not at 1K even, and we've just seen the last 4 years with a record setting Democratic control of the NH State House in all branches, and the outcome of that has been mixed, with some amazing wins:

  • Real ID stopped
  • First state to pass a gay marriage law without court intervention [we had folks on both sides of that one, and the anti-folks were against the state taking on more marriage control, on principle, mainly]
  • Knife rights restored [signed!]
  • no traffic ticketing cameras allowed

some close ones:

  • Passing medical marijuana reform only to see a nearly overriden veto kill it
  • Castle doctrine [vetoed!]
  • smoking ban passed, but we stopped it one year earlier.
and some loses:

  • More taxes, including an LLC tax (removed!)
  • More spending, out of control, budget gaps getting bigger

So if asked, "What would/could 1K/2K of political activists do?"  I know I'd be underestimating them because I'm still pleased at what we came close to winning, what we did win, and despite the losses, what was never allowed to hit the table (income/sales taxes, for one thing).  And really, that was with a few hundred activists... not nearly the 800+ we show on a counter, since so many aren't doing politics.

So 5 years on, I'll stick to my claim "2K would work miracles", because I still think it would.


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Re: Why 20K is overkill, and a mere 2K or so would work miracles
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 10:55:24 pm »

So, here we are at 7 years later... Where are we?  When last I wrote, 2 years ago, we were (unknowingly then) at the end of 4 years of Democratic control, having gone from 1 FSPer elected (a Dem) to 4 elected (plus 3 Republicans).  Fall of 2010, with a nationwide revolt back from the previous blue wave of 2006, New Hampshire went strongly red again, putting in a new supermajority of Republicans, including over a dozen freestaters in the majority party.  I was lucky enough to be one of them.  Time to put in action what I'd been putting into words.  So two years later, results?  Proof that the above was 'right'?  I think so.

With 12-15 active freestaters, plus other pro-liberty people (many of whom were 'stirred up' via activism done in the past), we had between 10-20% of the House voting for freedom, and on issues where we were the swing votes, that was victory, on issues where the majority could be swung by holding fast to principles, more victory.  Democrats (now in a 3-1 minority role) decried that FreeStaters had taken over the House... the Senate (a much harder and more expensive set of races) remained the domain of the Status Quo, despite a few freedom friendly voices, and more losses there showed us our next steps needed: big races requiring more time and money and most of all, more activists.

So with under 1000 movers, and far less political 'activists', I point to the results of 2011-2012's session, and say "Yes, I stand by my remarks, and continue to believe." I won't try and list the many many results here.  Sites like do that, or the NH Republican Liberty Caucus ( which also tracks the many victories (and defeats) so far.  Despite a pile of losses (many of us pushed envelopes and put in strong pro-freedom bills with no real chance of passage yet, merely to move the window of discussion along... a long term strategy of change), we had plenty of serious wins...  and I figure a batting average of .300 is major league worthy, and we certainly had that.

Manchester has slowly grown a liberty political wing, but still is fledgling... Even in Keene, politics is no longer off limits and passe, but considered worth trying once again.

The Ron Paul Revolution stirred many here in NH, yielding proof that almost 25% of the Republicans, and a good chunk of Democrats as well, can be counted on voting for liberty.  Stronger results than in 2008's primary, and considering that Ron Paul activism was driven by freestaters over and over, more signs of the truth that it's merely a matter of more numbers, and more time to get the message out there.

The NH GOP elected a 'tea party' Chair, and then in a bloodless coup, (due to money being the lifeblood of politics and withholding that money being equal to a stranglehold on the neck of the party), he was replaced by a very bloodless substitute.  Expect that fight for the soul of the GOP to continue, as more people wake up, as in other places, where the RP crowd is active, and reforming activism grows more.  Libertarians are currently working on, nearly done with, the previously impossible goal of collecting signatures for a full slate of candidates party wide, and perhaps they'll even keep that ballot access beyond this year. If not, we'll see what the activists do, whether to replace the LP with something new, reform it, or let it stagnate again.  Time will tell, but it's all about activism and sheer numbers.

So with over 1k of movers, how many are active 'politically'? (which as I said above is the key number I'm using, not mere numbers of movers)
Not 1000... sadly.  Hundreds?  Yeah.  Certainly over one hundred... closer to 200 or 300? perhaps on strong issues, Ron Paul primary style numbers...  500 hundred?  No.  We're seeing all of this with much less than 500 hundred _politicos_.

We're also seeing NEW sorts of people waking up to the Free State Project ideals: not just the usual libertarian sorts you'd expect.  We're finding that politics can make strange bedfellows and alliances do happen. I predict we'll continue to see interesting growth in who is getting active and how, as a result.  Vice versa, the opposition continues to worry.  The NH American Federation of Teachers union added "Do you support the Free State Project?" to their 2012 political survey for candidates, and many Republican moderates have sworn in public about the influences of FreeStaters on politics as well.  Not bad for a few hundred.... Imagine what'll happen next.  Everyone else is already, and teeth are chattering and cold sweats in some circles.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that politics is broken everywhere, by the money (and lobbyists paid by the money, and the money the lobbyists pay out).  But it's less broken here in NH.  I can and do complain about this problem often.  And it's not going away.  But left and right politicos see the same problem, and some also want to fix it, and I do believe we're more likely to fix it than elsewhere.  Stay tuned for how this changes.  Unsolvable?  No.  Hard to solve?  Yes.

So 7 years on, I'll stick to my claim still that "2K would work miracles", because I still think it would, because the trend is already favorable and shows no signs of stopping.  We don't need 20k, we just need more activists who are willing to do real political action.
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