Last week 80 conservative leaders crafted and signed The Mount Vernon Statement.  The primary theme of the statement is that constitutional conservatism is the unifying force behind the American Right.  It represents a wide spectrum of the conservative movement including fiscal, social, cultural and national security conservatives.

Constitutional Conservatism
A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The self-evident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.

If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose. We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.

I’m glad that they highlight limited government, we we talk about a Reagan coalition we talk about fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and national security conservatives.  However, small government, especially in the Bush years and when we had a Republican majority in Congress was left by the wayside.

So I’m curious do you think such a statement is necessary?  For those of you who consider yourself to be a conservative is this something you could sign?

5 comments
  1. I agree that the statement is necessary to keep the fractured Republican party from fracturing even more, but it is too little to late.

    Let me clue you in, Shane, the “Reagan coalition” (which probably should be called the Atwater coalition if you take off your rose-colored glasses) is long gone and never coming back.

    McCain was the last of the national security conservatives, and the idea that national security is a Republican-only issue has gone the way of the dodo and the Bush administration. Good riddance! National security is bipartisan, or, dare i say universal. So that’s strike one.

    For fiscal conservatives, read: robber-barons. The Great Recession has put an end to Ayn Rand/Alan Greenspan economics as a serious alternative, but they want to keep it in place because they can still make money at that rigged game by selling out the nation. Too bad for them people are finally starting to wise up, and a regulated economy is on the horizon. That’s a scary prospect for the fiscal conservatives, who have a religious belief in selfishness (and nothing else). Strike two.

    The Robber Barons are the only ones with a vest interest in keeping the Atwater alliance together in the first place, and they’ve been manipulating your vaunted social conservatives for so long that you guys don’t know what’s what. They are desperate to co-opt the teaparty thing, and that’s what this statement is all about. But it’s really damned if you do damned if you don’t for social conservatives, either stick to your radical social principles and never get any votes, or join up with them and be herded around for votes at the expense of your principles. Strike three.

    I feel sorry for the social conservatives, they’re really in a bad position, but i hope they aren’t mollified by this weak attempt at coallition building. Palin might be a cynic and an intellectual lightweight, but at least she genuinely represents the social conservative movement in a way that the fiscal conservatives could never understand and the true national defense supporters would never want. So the coallition will inevitably and irreparably be fractured, and we’ll see a realignment of the parties. This os a good thing, it’s democracy in action. Finally!
    .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..Same Earrings =-.

  2. I counted 18 signers and none of them currently hold a position in government.. do wonder why they couldn’t get more than 18 conservative leaders to sign.. especially ones in government. Not sure that the document is all that important.
    .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Alexander Haig, 1924-2010 =-.

  3. You know, I just noticed this little bit for the statement that is quite humorous:

    “Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

    The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles.”

    So, change is an empty promise or even a dangerous deception, but what are they advocating in the very next sentence? Change! And the deceptive kind, to boot. “Not away from but toward out found principles?” What a clever way of saying we need to move backward rather than forward. I wonder if they just put their beliefs in honest, plain language if people would still listen to this dreck. Then again, as Bob pointed out, nobody really is listening anyway.

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