Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Steamboat Institute’s third annual Freedom Conference was held last Friday and Saturday and included speakers and registrants from all across the U.S. —three state attorneys general, congressmen, Pulitzer-nominated authors and pundits of national prominence. Of particular note, our Saturday speakers included Congressmen Joe Walsh, of Illinois, and Todd Rokita, of Indiana; Grace-Marie Turner, founder and president of the Galen Institute and frequent columnist for the Wall Street Journal; Robert Goldberg, of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest; Dr. Hal Scherz, founder of Docs 4 Patient Care and recipient of the prestigious Salvatori Prize awarded by the Heritage Foundation; former Congressman Bob Beauprez; John Harpole, founder and CEO of Mercator Energy; former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer; Lt. Col. Steve Russell, leader of the troops who captured Saddam Hussein; and Steve Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal. As if that weren’t enough, Saturday’s events concluded with a fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain USO, which netted nearly $2,000.
On Sunday morning, I anxiously unfolded my copy of the Steamboat Pilot & Today to see which speakers the newspaper had chosen to feature. Imagine my surprise when I saw the front-page headline “Ski Town with a sweet tooth,” a report on Steamboat’s many ice cream shops. Now don’t get me wrong, we salute the entrepreneurial, free-market spirit of our local ice cream shop owners. However, it was shocking that the Pilot & Today made an obvious editorial decision to completely ignore an event that just last year the newspaper’s Editorial Board called “an event worthy of national attention.”
As Thomas Jefferson observed, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The Steamboat Institute does its best to provide information and foster informed discussion. The point of this is to aid everyone in employing the needed vigilance. Check your talking points at the door, please.
Anyone who suggests that the Steamboat Institute is some sort of marketing arm of a political party or that we merely conduct pep rallies plainly has not attended any of our monthly or annual events. Our attendees include conservatives, Libertarians, objectivists, and self-described liberals — people who disagree profoundly on a variety of basic issues. Speakers at last week’s conference were questioned, sometimes contentiously.
We are trying to contribute to the dialogue that is essential to the vigilance that Jefferson cites. Do we have a point of view? Certainly. The large majority of people who attend our events would agree with our five principles — limited government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, strong national defense, and personal rights and responsibilities.
We can’t, and wouldn’t, compel anyone to agree with us, but these are essential elements of the national discussion.
Ignoring the necessary discussion is a bad idea. Trying to marginalize those with whom we disagree is a bad idea. Whatever the reasons, failing to cover a national-level event, held right here in Steamboat Springs, is a bad idea.
The Steamboat Institute welcomes people of all ideologies to our events and encourages participation in the discussion. This includes Pilot & Today reporters. Just check your talking points at the door, no matter what side you are on.
Chairwoman of the Steamboat Institute