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  • The Mount Vernon Statement

    Today at 2:30 PM at the Collingwood Library and Museum portion of George Washington’s original Mount Vernon estate, a Who’s Who of the conservative movement’s leaders unveiled and signed The Mount Vernon Statement: a document defining the movement’s principles, beliefs and values in light of the challenges facing the country. The full statement is below, and you can add your name in support here.

    The Mount Vernon Statement

    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 selfevident 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.

    February 17, 2010

    Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan

    Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America

    Edwin Feulner, Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation

    Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, was present at the Sharon Statement signing.

    Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council

    Becky Norton Dunlop, president of the Council for National Policy

    Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center

    Alfred Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator

    David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union

    David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society

    T. Kenneth Cribb, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan

    Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform

    William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government

    Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness

    Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com

    Kenneth Blackwell, Coalition for a Conservative Majority

    Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring

    Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to The Mount Vernon Statement

    1. TerryCSA - NC says:

      Mount Vernon Statement RUBBISH!

      Is this the best these so-called great minds can come up with?

      This is neither a platform nor a charter. It is more hyperbole about absolutly nothing.

      They stand for nothing.

      They commit to nothing.

      They leave the typical political wiggle room big enough to drive a Mack truck through. Yet they are touting this as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      Gingrichs old Contract With American had more substance than this piece of crap.

      It just shows not only does the GOP not get it, neither do those self proclaimed conservatives that signed this document.

      It is no wonder this great nation is in the shape it is in.


      Come on you cowards! Commit to something of substance.

      Commit to this —> The Charter of the Republican Party

    2. Chuck Klein, Lee, FL says:

      We have to start somewhere. Our country is in a downward spiral. The far left and its agenda is not what this country is all about. History does repeat its self.

      The fall of the Roman Empire. HELLO

    3. P. McWalter says:

      I signed the Mount Vernon statement because I love this country and the ideals that this country, our constitution, and the Mount Vernon statement represents!

    4. Wayne Hatch, Mirphy, says:

      The Constitution is not a static document. Granted it was crafted to meet the ideals our country as of that point in time. Given it is the guiding document for our country, some what to move us regressively back into a point of time that is not relevant to today's environment. We need to be aware of where we are at as of this point in time. I agree that Congress and our President are out of sync with the will of the people. This can be resolved at the ballot box, but to elect a strict conservative may be no better than electing a strict liberalist.

    5. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      TerryCSA – The reason "this nation is in the shape it is in" is bacause of Obama, the Democrats, and people like you! This is not a "contract". It's not a legal or binding, document. It's a simple statement that is signed by both Republican and Democrat conservatives. It's a statement that puts into words what we, as conservatives stand for, without the distortion and out right lies, by the left-wing news media. It's a statement that shows we want our America and its values back, and what it will take to do just that.

    6. Art Pauly, Roseville says:

      I found the Mount Vernon Statement far too wordy and too difficult to follow. What's wrong with the Constitution of the United States of America as a platform? All these attempts at writing a platform statement say they are based on the Constitution. Why try to change it or word it any differently than it is?

      The only two things I would consider adding would be energy independence and a balanced budget. Then again these two things are just common sense of which there is none in our Government.

    7. David Barrett, Kille says:

      I see this statement as an excellant start at bringing our great nation back to the core principles we espoused at our founding. I see it as one small step, but a good start towards our goal.

    8. Charles Hoffman, Fra says:

      The Constitution and Bill of Rights are as relevant now as they were then. Times change, human nature does not. The founders and framers knew that and that this time would come. Avarice, corruption and tyranny must not be allowed to flourish. God bless and save the Republic

    9. Brent Willis says:

      We have to all work from the same foundation in order to engage in open, honest dialogue. The founding documents and the principles professed there represent the boundaries of the playing field in which we debate,allow our economy to flourish and by which we view the role of government. Progressive ideas are designed to divorce Americans from these ideals all in the name or progress. Progress towards what–Europe's painfully obvious failed economic and social policies? There is a limited number of governments a country can base itself on. Most elitist dominated, top down national governments have failed or are failing. If most fail, why again do we run head long toward them? The founding documents are ground zero in the debate and through an aggressive campaign the Left has convinced many that if you profess to abide by these ideals you must be far right. If you profess these ideals YOU are in the center and the others are to be questioned. Apathy has placed us here and the blame lies at the feet of limp conservatives. There is no far off, uninhabited land with great resources for Conservatives to sail; we can't reinvent this experiment. This is it…so start debating with conviction and with purpose and let no one person turn you from what you know to be true! As a life long fiscally conservative Democrat, I am happy to join this fight.

    10. Drew Page, IL says:

      There are those who believe that the Constitution, while still generally acceptable, was written to meet the ideals of the country at that time. The implication being that this is a new day and age and the ideals of our country today are different than they were 234 years ago. Some feel that adherence to the Constitution is an attempt to retrogress to a period of history long gone and no longer relevant. I suppose that's a point of view.

      But let's think about things for a minute. Do we today want be governed by a government that gets its power only from the consent of the governed, or by a government that assumes powers which it grants itself, regardless of what the governed think about it. Do we today think it is a good idea to maintain the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government, or should we eliminate the Legislative and Judicial branches and keep only the Executive branch? That might make things move a little easier. Maybe today we don't need the Bill of Rights, after all, it does include that nasty Second Amendment and we have the police to protect us, don't we? Come to think of it, why do we need a law against unreasonable search and seizure? You don't the think the police or the government would do that to a law abiding citizen, do you? You don't think the police or the government would kick down your door in the middle of the night and haul you off to prison and not let you call a lawyer, unless you were guilty of something, do you?

      People back in 1776 were different from people today. It seems they didn't trust government very much and didn't want very much from it, for fear that it would increase the taxes they had to pay. They didn't expect government to feed them, house them, clothe them, educate them, find them a job, or pay them when they didn't have a job. They didn't expect government to provide them with medical and dental care, or bury them when they died. There are still a lot of us today who have a lot of these same feelings.

      On the other hand, there is a growing number of folks in our country who believe that the government should do all these things and that the Constitution should be rewritten to reflect this. The unalienable rights of life, liberty and the persuit of happiness should be amended to read, "life, licentiousness and the guarantee of happiness".

      We got to be the envy of the world over the past 234 years by sticking with the Constitution that got us here, I vote we don't change it. I further vote that we have our President read it, at least the Cliffs Notes version.

    11. TerryCSA - NC says:

      I think we are past the "small steps" stage and America demands something substantive. Maybe the Tea Party Patriots can give us that when they release their "Contract From America" on April 15th. It looks like they have a good start.

      It's time to hold our elected officials feet to the fire, not just let them off with lip service.

    12. Karl Born, Indianapo says:

      I certainly agree that the Constitution is an amazing document, and I agree that it is our guide and the Supreme Law of the Land, but I do not agree with the comments (or the widely-circulated blog post by Michelle Malkin, last week) that the Constitution is the only guide that we need. The Constitution ought to be followed inviolably, but even if it were, it would still leave a significant role for the Mount Vernon Statement (and the Twelve Points, too, I would obviously say).

      We are in our current situation, in America, for a couple of reasons: First, the Constitution's language is very clear, for the most part, but not even the Constitution is so clear that the people who violate it cannot pretend that they are following it. This is a weakness in language (and in people), not in the Constitution itself. No wording could have been precise enough to prevent this. To restore the Constitution and the rule of law, though, it is a problem that needs to be solved — it is what the textualism/original intent v. "living document" issue is all about. As a practical matter, it will require some sort of communication (such as the Mount Vernon Statement), or many communications, to get us back into compliance with the Constitution.

      Second, as the Founders themselves recognized, not even the Constitution can hold back tyrants (or other evils) if too many of us want one or will not properly guard against one, and if too many of us are irresponsible in our own lives, no constitution could take us and shape us into a "great society." We have the greatest Constitution, but it has not done all of our work for us.

      The Constitution leaves us responsibilities that could never be fully defined by law. It is our responsibility to see to it that the Constitution is interpreted honestly and applied faithfully, and it is, of course, our responsibility to live our own lives well. To accomplish all of this, we will need to communicate with each other, sometimes through a Sharon Statement or a Mount Vernon Statement (or the Twelve Points). If we want to live under the Constitution, we need to help enough of our fellow Americans to get this right!

    13. Karl Born, Indianapo says:

      TerryCSA, I agree that specifics are needed, too, and that they are needed this year (this month, ideally, but at latest by the end of the summer; the sooner, the better). I do think a statement of principles was needed in addition to that, though. Too many self-described "conservatives" do not seem to understand what conservatism is. Following the events of this past decade, what constitutional, small-government, restrained-government conservative could really be blamed for wondering to what extent other "conservatives" agree with us or whether all of us even have the same meaning in mind when we claim to support the Constitution and freedom? Work on the specific policy agenda can begin even before we have that completely sorted out, but I think that our future effectiveness as a movement depends on us eliminating that confusion as soon as possible.

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