This week is Passover. The holiday has multiple meanings. But one particularly significant one is that it celebrates voting with your feet as a tool for escaping oppression. This aspect of the story is of special interest to me, both because of my personal history, and because of my academic work on foot voting. The Exodus story has long inspired people fleeing repressive regimes, including African-Americans escaping slavery, immigrants to the United States, and others. I don’t claim that this is the best possible reading of the biblical text. But it unquestionably has had a great and generally positive influence.
Today, we don’t always think of the Exodus as an example of voting with your feet because it was an organized group migration, whereas foot voting is often seen as a purely individual choice. But, in reality, there is a long history of group as well as individual foot voting . Sometimes, people vote with their feet by banding together with groups of the like-minded in order to move to a more hospitable society or establish an entirely new one. Well-known cases include the migration of the Mormons to Utah, and, of course, the establishment of the state of Israel (in which organized group migration played a key role). The Free State Project – an effort at coordinated migration to New Hampshire by libertarian activists – is an ongoing example that has achieved at least a modest measure of success.