Kathryn Lopez

Standing between liberty and tyranny is you.

That's one of many essential lessons found in a powerful and necessary new book, Mark Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto" (Threshold, 2009).

Levin's tome sounds a call to arms for conservatives, urging every last one to realize the stakes and engage in public affairs to the best of their ability. Understanding that it's not always the first instinct of the conservative to take on Washington, he urges more focus on our nation's capital, whether by going there, running for office closer to home, or educating those in your living room. Doing your job and living your life are important contributions, Levin writes, but "it is no longer enough." America needs more from its concerned citizens.

When the actions of a Republican president set the scene for the current commander in chief's CEO-firing, it's time for a new level of attention from all Americans. In Levin's words we need "a new generation of conservative activists, larger in number, shrewder and more articulate than before, who seek to blunt the Statist's counterrevolution -- not to imitate it -- and gradually and steadily reverse course. More conservatives than before will need to seek elective and appointed office, fill the ranks of the administrative state, hold teaching positions in public schools and universities, and find positions in Hollywood and the media where they can make a difference in infinite ways."

We appear to be living in a paradigm shift, during which the government is taking over in unprecedented ways. If you're uncomfortable with what you're seeing, get to work.

There are countless historical examples of American citizens with concerns similar to Levin's who went into politics. One of Levin's contemporary favorites, as anyone who regularly listens to his syndicated radio show knows, is Michele Bachmann. She's a congresswoman from Minnesota who the left loves to hate -- she almost lost her seat last year under threat from a loony liberal barrage.

After one of her foster children (she and her husband have taken care of 23 such kids over the years, in addition to five children of their own) came home from high school with an assignment for math homework that centered on coloring, she realized there was something wrong with the public-school standards area, and started working to change things. Her efforts would eventually take her to the state senate and now the U.S. Congress. Ask her about her experiences and you'll have the sense of a woman who does not have an office in mind, but a country.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.