February 17th, 2010
05:12 PM ET
8 years ago

A rally cry from 'Mount Vernon'

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform signs the Mount Vernon Statement Wednesday.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform signs the Mount Vernon Statement Wednesday.

(CNN) - A new push group rallying around the cause of "Constitutional Conservatism" unveiled a political manifesto on Wednesday to advocate for limited government and free enterprise.

The "Mount Vernon Statement" was launched by 18 establishment conservatives such as former Attorney General Ed Meese, movement elder Richard Viguerie and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist.

The group also includes leaders of the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and American Conservative Union, among others. It plans a press event on Wednesday afternoon in Alexandria, Va.

The release of the Mount Vernon statement, which is modeled on a conservative call-to-arms issued in 1960, comes ahead of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting – a three-day gathering set to begin on Thursday.

Read the Mount Vernon Statement below.

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 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.

Filed under: 2010
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. christopher (hartford, ct)

    So, they're for limited government, accept when it involves defending "family, neighborhood, community, and faith". Maybe they're not aware of the Founding Fathers' position on the separation of Church and state.

    February 17, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. PALINs PALM PILOT...have all the Retarded asnwers to her Stupidity

    who is this group? and who do they represent?

    definitely not all Americans...........so just a small group of the k k k

    February 17, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    Excellent principles. They do work in practice. That's what made this country great. We still have a lot to learn from our founding fathers.

    February 17, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Chris D.

    I can't wait until November..........Palin, the tea party, the GOP, so called independent voters.....all one in the same.
    They have brought division at a time of great calamity, uncertainty, and war.......Instead of crying for unification, they want secession.......Since February of 2009, they have been rallying, and marching in rage, and untruth..........
    It's a shame and a sham..........Though some of their issues are valid, the time, and rabid attacks are out of touch w/ what America needs.......
    In November, I choose HOPE, over FEAR.

    February 17, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Mr. Moderate

    Apparently they forgot that the word God is not found in the Constitution.

    February 17, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. A. Goodwin

    Funny – our government grew tremendously under George Bush Jr. (hello Dept. of Homeland Security) , our freedom's have been stripped thanks to George Bush Jr. (NSA electronic surveillance program/Patriot Act), Bush loved to make "Constitutional Amendments."

    My question is – why on God's earth would anyone trust a conservative? During their 8-year rein we saw nothing but an abuse of power.

    I would like to remind everyone that our president taught constitutional law. I believe him over any wack job who ascribes to the GOP!!

    February 17, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. TM

    And here's their slogan: We're the Scared, White, Angry Man's Party – Folllow us into the SWAMP!

    February 17, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Jane/Seattle

    Does this mean that government will STOP stealing our taxes to make BIG WARS – a highly supported government activity for private profits – the Fear Factor on stearoids? Especially Doubt this!

    Does this mean that these folks support the End of Corporate Welfare at taxpayer expense and putting "Pork" in the budgets for specific states? Doubt it!

    Does this mean that government needs to repeal the rights of elected officials (most of them wealthy) and other government employees to have "socialized" healthcare at taxpayer expense? Doubt it!

    Doess this mean that Christian "Conservatives" will stay out of the private health matters of citizens and their Doctors? Doubt it!

    Does this mean that the Supreme "Activist" Court will NOW adjust their ruling with regard to Big Business Buying our Elections? Doubt it!

    Does this actually mean that these folks will STOP supporting the agendas of the Wealthy and help American citizens, like that quaint word "Equality" says in our Documents? Doubt it!

    I doubt it for you are all obfuscators who only support unregulated Crapitalism and the agendas of "The Family"! Good Book by Jeff Sharlet

    February 17, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Papasan

    "WE", who the hell is We, you don't represent anyone, just your own selfish agenda...

    February 17, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    So, what would happen if these priniples are put in place and social welfare programs stop? Where would the homeless, the hungry and unemployed go? Charities can't do all of it and can't keep up with everything.

    Are they going to expand on what they mean on some of these subjects? What do they mean by defending family - whose family and which structure are they talking about? Families take up many shapes and sizes now and have for quite a while.

    February 17, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. MsDp

    This is just another TEA PARTY racist group who is looking for attention and want to show THEIR stupidity, really.

    P.S. Just because an Africian American is the President of the United States, does not negate the relevancy of the Constitution. I wished America would stop portraying their ignorance and racist views. This is 2010 and time for RACISM TO END! The new administration has only been office for one year and everybody is coming unglued. Where were all of the tea partiers when we really needed them to speak up and stop the jerk or jerks who got us into this mess? I think every body should sit down, get off your racist high horses and be quiet. Things will get better, because too many of you are acting on emotions of having an African American as your President. Get OVER IT, AND PIPE DOWN!

    February 17, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. David

    This is getting so old. So many people with so many agendas.

    February 17, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. chelle

    What is hilarious and ironic at the same time, is the presumption that the Founding Fathers were stagnet people. Do these "Constitutional Conservatives" not know anything at all about the Founding Fathers? These men were radical thinkers, liberals of their day! Equality for all was a liberal ideal.... Do the "CC" not think that Jefferson et al would have continued to grow and adjust?

    February 17, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. britto-fl

    While your at please bring Sara Palin as your speaker it seems to fit in perfectly, with her hubby Dude! Oh sing me a seccionist, and I'll bring the brooms.....what a sad bunch.

    February 17, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Terry from West Texas

    Conservatives speak of the Constitution like Christians speak of the Bible. They imagine that there is one and only one possible interpretation. Some people believe, like the Bible says, that only 144,000 people will go to heaven, but other Christians say, "Oh, that is not TRUE Christianity."

    When the Constitution says that any member of a state militia may purchase and carry a muzzle-loading single-shot musket and a sword, Conservatives say, "Well, the Founding Fathers also bazookas, assault rifles, grenades, shoulder fired missiles, and poison gas too. It's clear from the text."

    When the Constitution says that all citizens may express themselves freely, Conservative assume that to mean ALL global corporations may bribe as many elected officials as they can afford. Bribes are, after all, speech. The government cannot discriminate against a particular speaker IF that speaker has sufficient bribe money in his pocket.

    The truth is that Conservatives, like Christians, know what the WANT the document to say. Then they read the text like Dickensian lawyers and discover – amazingly – that the founding fathers meant exactly what Conservatives prefer for it to mean – today.

    Local governments should deal with local concerns, say Conservatives, unless a state court orders a recount in Florida, in which case the five Conservative hacks on the Supreme Court should overturn the election.

    February 17, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Pete in Guilford

    Wow, I never realized that the Constitution was just for conservatives. Who says a conservative interpretation of the Constitution is correct? These people seem to have forgotten that we have a Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and determine if the laws made by Congress adhere to it.

    February 17, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Marc

    '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.'
    I agree 100% with this part of their statement, which is why I disagree with their goals...
    Because THEIR vision of what is 'laws of nature and nature's God', 'pursuit of happiness', 'consent of the governed' and especially 'virtue' is way too different of MY OWN.
    And THEY want to impose THEIR way over mine and everybody else's...

    February 17, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Stallion

    Sounds good to me.......the constitution was written to empower the people with certain rights.....not the other way around. Only the people have constitutional rights.....not the government......the constitution was good when it was written and it is still good now. Bravo guys!

    February 17, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. harvey

    Ed Meese: leader of the crackdown on protesters at People's Park in Berkeley CA 1969, 1 killed, hundreds injured, advised then Governor Reagan to declare a state of emergency, leading to National Guard occupation of the city for 2 weeks. See Above about the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.

    Ed Meese: Reagan's liason to the conservative evangelical
    movement. See Above about the laws of nature and nature's God.

    Ed Meese: criticizer of the Miranda Warning, who stated "...you don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect." Just ask the formerly convicted felons who've been released from jail because of new DNA evidence. How about the unfortunate soul in Texas who was executed without DNA testing of critical evidence from the crime scene?

    Let's go back to the good old days of the post-Revolutionary War era. Lots of guns, slavery, women didn't have the right to vote and couldn't work outside the home, no income tax. If these people had their way, the US would be a religious theocracy just like Iran, the stormtroopers would be Christian evangelicals, and anyone daring to think differently or oppose them would be in chains. What about the Statue of Liberty, Ed? "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." You and these other kooks don't have a clue.

    February 17, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    What? No meetings at the C Street house/church or whatever is it they do there? We are not going back to the past people, Give it up

    February 17, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Equality for all

    I've just read this entire "Mount Vernon Statement" and am aghast at how backward their thinking is.

    "The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature's God." Whose laws of nature and God do they suppose our nation should follow? What about those who don't believe in God, but believe in living freely, as good citizens paying their taxes and raising families?

    "It recognizes man's self-interest but also his capacity for virtue." Have they forgotten the 51 percent of America that are WOMEN? Unbelievable!

    "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? " These men are simply afraid of change, of being in the minority.

    We must move forward with a progressive, inclusive, LIBERAL agenda!

    February 17, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Betty

    By all means lets go back to the founding principles where the only ones allowed to vote were property owning white males.

    A curse to all of those so call constitutional purists

    February 17, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    What a bunch of neo-nazi drivel. Same-old, same-old from the same old disgraced rightwing mob. Ed Meese?????? PuhLEEEEESE. Maybe Olie North signed on too...he's another smelly attractant for the rightwing underbelly of this nation.

    If they could just gather all those attending the so-called ConPAC, put them in a box, wrap the box with some beautiful paper, tie a lovely bow on it.....then weight it with a rock and throw it in a deep lake.....the average IQ in America would go up 10 points.

    February 17, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    "Any fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction."-Albert Einstein

    February 17, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. OldUncleTom

    Coming from Mt Vernon, I am surprised they don't promote a return to Slavery.

    It was, after all, like DC, built mostly by slaves, and the great majority of the sacred Founders were very much in favor of the institution, whether northern (traders) or southern (owners).

    We must be wary of "Tradition" for its own sake. Sometimes, it is just "backward".

    February 17, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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