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There is something ironic about conservative, elected officials traveling to our border to complain about those trying to enter this country, with many taking the entry-level jobs in the hospitality industry, then trucking it to Colorado’s posh Beaver Creek resort for this weekend’s 2023 Freedom Conference.

That is exactly what South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has done this week. On Monday, she visited the border where she supports the Texas governor’s harsh treatment of even those seeking asylum, and at a press conference from the border, she described the situation there as “a war”.

Then she joined a plethora of conservatives for the Freedom Conference and Festival, where, presumably, their needs may be taken care of by the very low-level employees, many of them immigrants, whom they say don’t belong here.

Put on annually by the Steamboat Institute, the Freedom Conference and Festival was moved to Beaver Creek in 2020, which appears to be a more reliably conservative base than Steamboat Springs. Held at the Gerald R. Ford Hall, conference marketing materials say “The Steamboat Institute promotes America’s first principles and inspires active involvement in the defense of liberty.”

It goes on to recap its educational purposes, claiming the role of “Defenders of Freedom and Advocates of Liberty.”

Ark Valley Voice (AVV) is hard-pressed to understand the factual basis for the organization’s claims.

Conservatives and the Republican party used to be focused on issues like small government, strong national defense, and lower taxes — actually debatable policy considerations. But this new rendition of conservatives appears intent on using those words about freedom and liberty to achieve the opposite definition.

Those still calling themselves “conservatives” often appear to be focused on limiting the reproductive rights of women, targeting the personal rights of the LGBTQ+ community, allowing the unlimited spread of assault weapons, controlling the curriculums and banning books in public schools, and attacking our election systems and the rule of law, while tolerating an increased level of racism and bias.

AVV recommends applying a mirror to these authoritarian tendencies before it is too late. With a leading primary candidate who it wouldn’t appear can legally win a general election – what exactly are his extremist supporters going to do — take it by force?  What are regular conservatives going to do — go along with this? How much does power mean to them?

If the Steamboat Institute disagrees with what our own eyes and ears are seeing and hearing — speak up now. The normalization of such extremism is — and always has been — fascism.