Something special happened in Steamboat Springs last weekend when more than 300 registrants and world-renowned speakers gathered at the Steamboat Institute’s Freedom Conference to re-examine the founding principles of this nation and their application to our world today. People who have long been silent came forward to extol, or learn about, those founding principles and to hear technical expertise in a number of areas to help evaluate the issues of today.
Everyone who attended the Freedom Conference certainly understands that it is, in fact, all about freedom. While some reporting of the event might make folks that did not attend think that this was some sort of GOP strategy session, it was anything but. Republicans, usually identified by name, received blistering criticism. Disapproval was even handed out by Karl Rove for Republicans who stray from conservative principles.
The founding principles that the Steamboat Institute advances are: limited government; lower taxes; free market capitalism; strong national defense; and personal rights and responsibilities. Those who stray from these principles were criticized, regardless of their political party.
Speaker after speaker explored conservative principles, in general and as they apply in a particular area of the speaker’s expertise. The analysis was the same: “Does this proposal or legislation make me more free or less free?”
Speakers such as French Hill, Dan Mitchell and Grover Norquist explained the economic danger of a high-spending and intrusive government.
Speakers such as Ginni Thomas reminded us that one danger of a large government is that it can be used to reward friends and punish enemies.
Speakers such as Dr. Bob Goldberg, Dr. Kelly Victory and Michael Tanner pointed out the real problems of the American health care system, how the health care bill fails to address, or worsens, these problems, and measures that could improve the system.
Speakers such as Chris Horner explained various environmental proposals to point out the trifling benefit as compared to the economic cost in prices, economic stagnation, personal freedom and lost jobs, all based on real-world results in other countries.
Speakers such as Kellyanne Conway and Amy Oliver explained that the women of the electorate are sorely underestimated and do not make decisions on a knee-jerk basis, but rather out of their practical experience in running households.
Speakers such as Peter Brookes, Cliff May and Claudia Rosett pointed out the foreign threats to this country and how they are not being adequately addressed.
Speakers such as Dr. Yaron Brook explained in detail how capitalism is not failing and that not only is capitalism a moral economic system, but that it is the only moral system, as it is the only economic system consistent with freedom.
Perhaps most important, speakers such as Jason Mattera pointed out how large segments of our citizenry can be lulled into making poor policy decisions and surrendering their freedom, bit by bit, by slick marketing, and therefore, how it is incumbent on conservatives to proudly advance their message in ways that are attractive to all.
This list is but a small sampling of the treats served up to those attending the Freedom Conference.
The human spirit, indeed, yearns to be free. The path of a free society is not subject to the planning and control of those who erroneously think themselves to be so much smarter than the rest of us that they must direct our actions. The path of a free society may be messy and may not take a linear path, but as history has shown, it will deliver the best result in every sense.
The price of freedom, though, is eternal vigilance, and its defense is not always easy. The Steamboat Institute will continue to fight for our freedom and to give you the tools to do so yourself. So look for more events, year-round, such as the Freedom Conference. Watch www.steam
boatinstitute.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To quote the popular song lyric, “We ain’t gon’ stop now until we get that freedom.”
Rick Akin is an attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs, Denver, and Austin, Texas. He is a former member of the Pilot & Today’s Editorial Board, and he is vice chairman of The Steamboat Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Letters from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from the University of Texas.