If you talk the talk of liberty, how long will it take to walk the path? Libertarians and those seeking liberty talk a good game. We are excellent at rationalizing, arguing, and criticizing. Our plans are detailed and complex. Yet, we have accomplished so little.
Despite dozens of attempts, no truly free country has been created, no major elections won, and even the lauded “Free State Project” has failed to garner enough to meet its original goal of 20,000 movers.
Let’s face it, when we are talking about establishing a real home for personal liberty, we are not only an incredible minority, we are also asking a lot of people. What people want to give up their homes, jobs, and communities to go off on some “damn fool idealistic crusade,” to paraphrase Obi-Wan from the original Star Wars.
Sure, we are mad about seat belt laws and mandatory insurance laws, NSA spying, and silly anti-smoking laws that clearly violate the property rights of bar owners. We don’t like zoning, laws against drugs and prostitution, corruption in government, and obscene levels of taxation, coupled with even more obscene levels of spending. But what do we do about it? Argue?
What does this liberty stuff even look like? Have you seen it?
Establishing a free country, a place where liberty is the norm and not the exception, is tough business. Creating the coalition needed to establish it and the logistics for getting everyone in the same place or the right places and raising the money needed to make it happen often seems a mountain too high to climb. You may find people who agree that drugs and prostitution should be legal, who recognize the insanity of mandatory health insurance, or who rage against NSA spying, but who is really willing to offer their freedom, their fortunes, their lives, and their sacred honor?
Apparently, not too many of us. We talk a good game.
Yet, there seems to be a huge segment of the population that should be the first on the list of potential recruits that has been overlooked: non-violent criminals. Bear with me; this might actually make sense at some point.
Across the United States, there are millions upon millions of people who are either in prison, on parole, or who in their backgrounds have a conviction for a nonviolent drug offense. These people were arrested for possession of a simple drug or possession with intent to distribute, or at one time they may have been proud owners of firearms and were thus considered “violent” — in a country that supposedly guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. Regardless, forever people will mark them as criminals. Many of them will never be able to get above low-wage labor jobs because of that conviction.
Ex-cons are one step above sex offenders in the order of who gets the short end of the socioeconomic stick in the United States. Speaking of which, did you know most sex offenders are not child murderers or pedophiles? In some states you can be forced to register as a sex offender for engaging in prostitution or being one’s client. In others, you can be forced to register for urinating in a dark alley behind a bar. Teenagers who take naked pictures of themselves to send to their boyfriends or girlfriends can be charged with producing child pornography or possessing it if they are on the receiving end of the “sext.” Even worse, in some states you can be forced to register as a sex offender even if you were found “not guilty” of the crime for which you were charged.
Then there are the statutory rapists who dated a boy or girl that society deemed too young for them. As a father, I think a good beating and a short prison sentence would be better — not a lifetime of wearing a scarlet letter.
All of these sex offenders have lost everything and are being lumped in with child murderers. They can’t get a job and sometimes live out in the woods because of draconian residency restrictions. Even though they may not be a threat to society at all, they have already lost everything that society has to offer.
My proposal for establishing a republic in Eastern Puerto Rico via a democratic process includes a plan to legalize drugs and prostitution, change the way we view and prosecute teenagers, and do away with a sex offender registry system. If someone is truly so dangerous they must be kept out of society, they should have been sentenced accordingly in the first place.
Over time I’ve also considered a “five year and you’re clear” rule. In other words, if you’ve committed a crime, been convicted, sentenced, punished, and remained crime-free for five years, your record is expunged. We have forgiven plenty of politicians for their “youthful” indiscretions; why not everyone else?
Puerto Rico offers a unique opportunity for those with past criminal records. Unlike many states, individuals with previous convictions can vote in Puerto Rico. In other words, they can be an active part of establishing the Republic of Eastern Puerto Rico. If we are successful, specifically under the plan I am proposing, those people would have their records expunged upon independence in exchange for having supported and actively participated in the push for independence.
I believe we have a fair chance with just 25,000 committed supporters present, although I would prefer 200,000 supporters — in which case I believe I can almost guarantee independence in at least part of the island.
I’ve always wondered why our government has been so obsessed with labels and why other independence and liberty movements have not seen this pool of millions of people as the most likely group to offer what little they have left in exchange for the liberty we envision.