MANCHESTER, N.H. — The doormat outside Carla Gericke’s house carries the warning “Come back with a warrant.” It’s a stark reflection of her broad distrust of government bureaucracy, an attitude that is the driving force behind the Free State movement, which has led thousands of like-minded people to move to New Hampshire on a quixotic quest — to build a libertarian utopia.
Gericke helps lead that movement, and her agenda is broad and unapologetically radical. More than 6,000 people have relocated to New Hampshire since the effort was launched 21 years ago, according to its organizers. And while some dispute that claim, legislators on both sides of the aisle in Concord agree that Free Staters have come to wield outsize political influence.
Inside her home, Gericke explained why an independent New Hampshire is a good idea, why its public schools are hopelessly broken, why Washington, D.C., is pervasively corrupt, and why Free Staters who believe big government is the enemy of personal freedom are determined to turn society upside down.
“I’m a problem-solver, I’m a solutionist, I am an innovator, I’m a visionary,” said Gericke, a former corporate attorney who moved to New Hampshire from New York in 2008 as part of the Free State movement. “I want to take a swing at making one place better, and this is the place I picked.”
But where Gericke and other “porcupines” — a nickname Free Staters have adopted— see a blueprint for shrinking government and protecting the rights to privacy and private property, critics see a back-door assault on democracy itself.
Their end game, detractors say, is to infiltrate New Hampshire government at all levels — from select boards to the State House — with the aim of dismantling it. State support for public schools is a priority target. Read more…