A year ago, some dedicated individuals from Routt County, with help from other leaders in Colorado, undertook the Steamboat Conservative Editorial Series. While the rigors of the campaign kept me from reading every weekly installment, what you have seen in this space has been a grassroots attempt to reason through the issues of the day and to educate. It has been an effort to explain Conservative thought and to apply it to current issues. It has been an attempt, and I think a successful one, to dispel the myth that Conservatives are a selfish and hardhearted lot.
To the contrary, Conservatives understand the fundamental truth that problems are not solved by government decreeing that it shall be so. They understand that the force of economics is much like the force of nature - it ultimately cannot be defeated, and any attempt to do so is apt to be laden with adverse and unintended consequences. They understand that the genius of America lies not with its government, but with its people, and that excessive governmental control only stifles that genius. They understand the proper role of religion in our culture and the equal danger of driving religion from the public square. They see the necessity of standards of conduct and the danger of the current trend toward moral equivalence.
I applaud the fact that the authors of the Steamboat Conservative Editorial Series are a group of citizens that took action when they were concerned with the direction that their community seemed to be taking. At the same time, they saw other like-minded folks that were discouraged, felt isolated, and needed a rallying point. Rather than join in the dejection, they decided to do something. They saw the need to be visible and to educate. Taking this route is not the easy way, but it is one that is fundamental to the success of a free democratic society.
I am reminded of my visit some years ago to the Israeli Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, with my daughter Sarah, who was 11 at the time. Yad Vashem includes a series of exhibits that walk the visitor through the history of the Nazi persecution of the Jews from the initial hateful rhetoric, finally, to the mass murders at Auschwitz and other sites. I was honestly concerned that the emotional intensity of Yad Vashem was too much for my young daughter, and I noticed that her grip on my hand grew tighter and tighter as we progressed through the exhibits. When we reached the end, after the depiction of the murders at Auschwitz, we came to a guestbook, which included a space for comments. In her 11-year old scrawl, my daughter signed her name and wrote these words, "Why didn't somebody do something?"
I pray that none of us will ever be confronted again with anything as horrible as Nazism, but we all have to understand that the fate of society lies with each of us - that if we are disturbed by societal or political trends, the "somebody" who must do "something" is each of us. To quote Thomas Jefferson, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
Like activists across this great country, the authors of this series have, in their own small way and in their own small corner of the world, shouldered this responsibility, to my mind, with distinction - and perhaps with a little bigger audience than they thought they had.
Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! Your good work does not go unnoticed.
Mike Huckabee was the 44th Governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. He is a former chairman of the National Governors' Association and a Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and is an honorary member of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado.