Every winter, the Free State Project hosts a conference called Liberty Forum in New Hampshire. The event brings together liberty lovers to meet, network, and learn from each other. This year’s sold-out event was held on March 5-6, 2022 at the Best Western Plus conference center in Manchester, NH. The second day featured a panel on the topic of state independence, featuring the following speakers:
- Carla Gericke – former President of the Free State Project and Board member of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence
- Daniel Miller – President of the Texas Nationalist Movement and the former Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Texas
- Rabbi Steven Axelman – Vice President of CALEXIT and the founder of Americans United for Peaceful Separation
- Elliot “Alu” Axelman – founder and Editor-in-Chief of LibertyBlock.com and President of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence
The panel discussion was highly informative and entertaining. Moderator Gericke kicked it off by saying “I think that the time is high for us to start to have this talk. And that really is what we’re doing. We’re just opening a dialog. We’re people who generally believe in persuasion. We think the best ideas can win. And so we just want to talk about this idea and explore whether this is feasible, what it would look like, how it would work.”
Gericke then played a recording of her testimony at the committee hearing for CACR32, a New Hampshire constitutional amendment that would have declared New Hampshire to be a sovereign nation (see our full writeup on that hearing).
After that, Miller addressed the audience. He started off by encouraging them to join him in a resounding Texas-style “Yeehaw!”. Miller then briefly reviewed the history of the Battle of the Alamo. He said he’d come to New Hampshire that day to “shake the hands of the state representatives here who had the intestinal fortitude and the backbone to support letting the people of New Hampshire vote on their independence”.
Gericke pointed out that the topic of independence isn’t part of the political left-right paradigm. The California independence movement is “extremely leftist”. The Texas movement is more “conservatarian”, while the New Hampshire movement is more libertarian.
Steven Axelman asked rhetorically “what’s a nice Jewish boy from New York like me doing as Vice-President of CALEXIT?” He said the reason he’s involved is because he supports their right to self-determination and because he doesn’t agree with them on almost ANYTHING. CALEXIT’s President Marcus Ruiz Evans had reached out to the LibertyBlock.com several years ago. He didn’t think conservatives in this country would let California go. Axelman said “most of us would be happy to leave our homes at 5 in the morning and push them into the Pacific Ocean!” Ruiz Evans was very surprised at that. They have been working together ever since. Despite their disagreement on most issues, they “can live together as friends if we don’t have to control each other’s lives”.
CALEXIT has gone through some tumult in the last few months and the organization is being rebuilt. Axelman believes they have around 130,000 people on their email list. He appreciates the opportunity to work with multiple organizations such as Miller’s TNM and Alu Axelman’s FNHI. He wants to help bring the movements together and help them work with each other. Axelman doesn’t consider himself to be a radical. He wants to be a face for the movement to help convince others that “we’re just a bunch of normal people who want to live our own lives in our own way “.
Elliot Axelman then spoke, pointing out that for 245 years, those who love liberty have been trying certain tactics to gain more freedom, the primary one being voting. “The definition of insanity is trying the same thing every day for 245 years and expecting a different result, all of a sudden, out of the blue, for no reason.” We’ve been trying court cases, voting, petitions, calling our representatives. We all want to keep it peaceful, and the only other thing we can do is leave.
“If you’ve tried to get your abuser to stop abusing you in every single way by appealing to his sense of morality, logic, and all that, and they don’t listen, there’s only one thing you can do to defend yourself from actual abuse, short of violence. And that is leaving.”
Criticisms and Counter-Arguments
Gericke then asked the panelists to share the number one criticism or counter-argument they hear, and how they respond to it. She said hers is “well, we’d all be a little richer”. If New Hampshire were independent, residents would no longer have to pay Federal taxes.
Miller said that he’s been at this for 25 years. He’s heard every question and criticism in the book. At this point, he finds it more effective to turn it around on people. He asks them, imagine that Texas is currently an independent, self-governing nation. It has control over its own immigration, monetary policy, military, and passports. If we were talking about whether or not Texas should join the Union… Knowing everything you know about the Federal government right now, would you vote to join the Union? And if the answer is no, if you would not vote to join, then why in the hell would you ever vote to stay?
Miller says his organization knows for certain that if a TEXIT vote was held tomorrow, they would win… and not by a razor-thin margin, but by a lot. This is why the establishment is fighting so hard to prevent such a vote from happening.
Elliot Axelman said the criticism he hears most frequently is that New Hampshire is a very small state. Without the protection and “benefits” of the Federal government, New Hampshire residents would starve to death or live in poverty.
If New Hampshire became independent, it wouldn’t even be one of the twenty smallest countries in the world. And those countries, which include Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, and Andorra, are doing just fine. In fact, some of those smallest countries have the highest median income in the world. Axelman claimed that New Hampshire currently has the highest median household income of any U.S. state. [Note: we were unable to find a source that supports this. However, multiple sources do list New Hampshire in the top ten. Statista.com ranked New Hampshire third in 2020.] He also said it has the “best unemployment”. [Note: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks New Hampshire as tied for fifth lowest unemployment rate.] It’s the freest state economically, as rated by both the CATO Institute and the Frasier Institute. It has near the lowest overall tax burden. Axelman believes New Hampshire would be the most prosperous nation ever, more than Hong Kong or Japan, for two reasons.
- We would all save $30-50 thousand dollars a year on Federal taxes.
- Federal regulations currently cost New Hampshire $10 billion a year. Eliminating these regulations would allow the New Hampshire economy to boom.
There was a twenty minute Q&A session at the end of the panel. A recording of the entire event is available for viewing on YouTube.