Essay:Why Conservatives Reject Strategic Relocation

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Strategic Relocation is a political belief that people should migrate to underpopulated areas in order to control over regions of a country and if necessary establish a separate society there if a nation-state collapses. This essay shows that this is incompatible with conservative beliefs.

A Mormon temple
There have been various examples strategic relocation in United States history, Most notably, the Mormons relocated from upstate New York to western Illinois and finally to Utah. Their efforts to establish and control a separate society near Nauvoo, Illinois prompted armed conflict which was so severe that relocation was a necessity. In general, the number of Mormons who relocated to Utah was sufficient to establish long-standing political domination of that territory, which later became a state. Since then, Mormons have integrated into American society, and Mormons are leading successful lives in all 50 states. There is not widespread need for all Mormons in the 21st century to relocate back to Utah in response to societal conditions, even though Mormons generally hold conservative views.

This illustrates the essential elements in a strategic relocation movement. First, there must be a charismatic leader or leaders that has the ability to articulate and widely communicate the goals of the movement to current and potential members. Second, there must be a critical mass of participants who relocate and organize in the new location. Third, conditions in the current location must be sufficiently adverse that people are willing to severe their ties with their existing community and to take the risk of building a new life at the new location. Fourth, there must be success for the movement at the new location that makes participants want to remain attached to the movement and to stay in the new location. In part, this means that people would relocate within a relatively short time period.

As an example, the Free State Project was a strategic relocation project to have 20,000 libertarians all relocate to a low population state to realign it to libertarian values. When the project started in 2001, its leaders decided that the new location would be selected by broad consensus, and that each participant would be asked to sign a pledge that once 20,000 other people had signed up, everyone would relocate to that state within five years. In 2003, the group selected New Hampshire as the new location. On February 3, 2016, the Free State Project announced via social media that 20,000 people had signed the Statement of Intent.[1] In a press conference later that day, the movement's leader said the relocation had been triggered and that signers were expected to follow up on their pledge.[2] The organizers are now shifting their efforts from recruiting the 20,000 participants to encouraging those who have signed up to actually move to New Hampshire. The success of the project will not be known until 2021 and will depend upon people honoring their pledge to move and the conditions created in the new New Hampshire communities.

State 2015 Population (est)
Washington 7,170,351
Oregon 4,028,977
Idaho 1,654,930
Montana 1,032,949
Wyoming 586,107
In contrast, the American Redoubt movement had no mechanism for assuring a critical mass and no goal of achieving political power in the new location. The movement's new location is spread over five states which virtually assures that the movement's political influence will be diluted and perhaps outweighed by the population of urban areas in those states. Although the movement started in 2011, over the past five years, there has not be a measurable change in the political influence of its leaders. While individuals have moved into the new location area, the predicted collapse of American society has not occurred, and there is no evidence that the people who moved into the area are followers of the movement's leaders.

In contrast, conservatives believe in the continuation of the present social order and society. Conservatives see a duty to be a valuable contributor to their family, their community and their nation. Conservatives are active in working through elections held at the local, state and national level to select candidates that will best preserve and improve society based on proven policies and values. For that reason, millions of conservatives are putting their energy in the November elections rather than in some dystopian project that assumes that American society will collapse. The 2016 Republican primaries and caucuses have drawn a record voter turnout.[3] Conservatives are "voting with their ballots" rather than "voting with their feet."


  1. Twitter: We Did It. Retrieved on March 30, 2016.
  2. official press conference announcing success in reaching 20,000 members. Retrieved on March 30, 2016.
  3. "What do the turnout numbers say about the 2016 race?", CBS News, February 29, 2016. Retrieved on March 30, 2016.