In 2001, libertarian political scientist Jason Sorens proposed the creation of a “free state.” He appealed to other libertarians to cluster in one small state, where enough of them would be able to eliminate laws and authority and “live free.” That state was New Hampshire, and the libertarians have joined hands with Republicans to impose their agenda on others who don’t share it. Earlier this spring, Free Staters proposed that New Hampshire secede and became an independent nation, but that proposal failed overwhelmingly, in part because enough people realized it was nutty and/or they didn’t want to give up their Social Security.

Dan Barry wrote in The New York Times about an effort by Free Staters in Croydon, New Hampshire, to cut the town’s school budget in half.

As is typical in many towns and cities across the nation, not many people show up for local elections, or in this case, the town meeting. One of the members of the Croydon board of selectmen, Ian Underwood, proposed cutting the town budget for schools by more than half, from $1.7 million to $800,000.

In pamphlets he brought to the meeting, Mr. Underwood asserted that sports, music instruction and other typical school activities were not necessary to participate intelligently in a free government, and that using taxes to pay for them “crosses the boundary between public benefit and private charity.”

The pamphlet did not note that its author was a 1979 graduate of the public high school in Chesterton, Ind., where he starred on the tennis team, ran track, played intramural sports and joined extracurricular activities in math, creative writing, radio and student government. Also: National Honor Society member, National Merit finalist and valedictorian.

One person not completely gobsmacked by Mr. Underwood’s proposal was the school board chairwoman: his wife, Jody Underwood. The Underwoods, who do not have children, moved to Croydon from Pennsylvania in 2007 in part to join the Free State mission; they are now considered a Free State power couple.

Underwood’s radical proposal passed by 20-14. It was a victory for the Free Staters. As the Underwoods did media interviews, they gloated:

Mr. Underwood asked what for him appears to be a fundamental question — “Why is that guy paying for that guy’s kids to be educated?” — and denied that he and his wife were “in cahoots.”

Many people in Croydon were “livid.” They realized this radical act was the result of their indifference.

But they were also chastened. They hadn’t attended the town meeting. They hadn’t fulfilled their democratic obligation. They hadn’t kept informed about the Free State movement. To some observers, they had gotten what they deserved…

From this muddle of anger, confusion and regret, though, a movement was born. It came to be known as We Stand Up for Croydon Students.

Conservatives, liberals and those who shun labels — “an entirely nonpartisan group,” said Ms. Damon, one of the members — began meeting online and in living rooms to undo what they considered a devastating mistake. They researched right-to-know laws, sought advice from nonprofits and contacted the state attorney general’s office to see whether they had any legal options.

They did: Under New Hampshire law, citizens could petition for a special meeting where the budget cut could be overturned — if at least half the town’s voters were present and cast ballots.

Ms. Beaulieu, 44, a project manager for a kitchen and bath store, helped to gather enough signatures for the necessary petition. Once a date in May was set for the special meeting, she and other volunteers spread the word, knocking on doors, conducting phone banks and planting lawn signs…

The crisis in Croydon generated a curious democratic dynamic. Since the law required that at least half the town’s electorate participate in the special meeting’s vote for it to be binding, those trying to overturn the Underwood budget encouraged people to attend, while those hoping to retain it encouraged people to do just the opposite and stay home.

On the chilly Saturday morning of May 7, Croydon residents filed into a spacious building at the local YMCA camp for their special meeting. The We Stand Up contingent needed at least 283 voters.

The turnout: 379.

The vote in favor of overturning the Underwood budget: 377.

The vote against: 2.

The We Stand Up crowd cheered and hugged, leaving Mr. Underwood to vent online with posts titled “Your House Is My A.T.M.” and “Possibly Dumbest Thing I’ve Heard Someone Say, Ever,” and Dr. Underwood to frame the moment as both an impressive voter turnout and a victory for “mob rule.”

“It felt to me like a bunch of woke people came to Croydon,” she said.

What happened in Croydon is a lesson for us all.

Get out and vote.

Do not let the neo-fascists, neo-Confederates, racists, and conspiracy theorists take over.

Fight for democracy or lose it.