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

A rally cry from 'Mount Vernon'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/17/hamby.mtvernon.jpg caption="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. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    OMG! The idiot fringe is at it again.

    February 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair

    I'll support ANY candidate who believes in a LIMITED central government, be they Republican, Democrat, Independent, black, white red, yellow, or pink with purple polka dots.

    10th Amendment of the Constitution states "Any power not specifically given to the Federal Governement is reserved to the States, or the People".

    So EVERY time additional power is given to the Federal government, that power is taken AWAY from the States... AND the People.

    Limited Federal government... strong State government. Just as the Founders intended.

    February 17, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Rebecca

    As a Vernon, I object to this group's use of the name to further its own agenda. Mount Vernon was named after one of my ancestors. Couldn't they have made their statement without co-opting the name? It appears that they are trying to add credibility to themselves and further their agenda by its use. I would also like to know what this group would offer me, as an American who (famous name or not) is struggling to just survive. On the face of it, they offer nothing more than more of the same rhetoric. Sorry folks, what I could really use is a visit to the dentist, not some empty lines about free enterprise and "family, neighborhood and faith."

    February 17, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. chris tx

    "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. "

    Didn't Bush call us "Liberators" – more like war mongering and sticking our nose where it doesn't belong and losing our children in wars...

    "It informs conservatism's firm defense of family" – did a Republican write that? LOL

    February 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Actually "constitutional conservativism" is, in fact, an oxymoron. The US Constitution was – and still remains – one of the most, yes, LIBERAL documents in history.

    It affords protection from the government, ensures due process of law, guarantees access to participation in democracy, and limits the role of religious bodies from exacting undue authority over public policy. These were radical ideas in the 18th century and, by most standards, are radical ideas for most of the world in the 21st century.

    So-called constitutional conservatives' advocacy that civil liberties should not be aggressively enforced, that access to public resources and participation in the democratic process by everyone (yes, including gays) should be limited, that states and local governments be given the authority to nullify nationally-guaranteed rights, that due process of law be waived for people that society doesn't like, and that organized religious bodies (particularly conservative ones) be given free reign in dictating public social policy is, in fact, an effort to undermine the very nature of the constitution.

    The US Constitution is inherently a radically liberal document. A conservative interpretation of it is, in fact, an intentional effort to dismantle the constitution itself.

    February 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. geecee

    These people are calling for the overthrow of our government! They should all be arrested for sedition. What a bunch of sorry losers. They just can't accept the fact that this recession was caused by a Republican administration that caused two wars that weren't paid for, and an economic crisis of epic proportions. They want to blame the current Democratic administration for all the problems caused by Bush/Cheney. These problems didn't just develop in one year. They have been coming down the pike for quite sometime and instead of giving Obama credit for not letting us go off a cliff, they want to blame him because the employment problem hasn't turned around yet. Sure, storm the White House with your torches and pitchforks, you nitwits!!

    February 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Al, Lawrence KS

    I wonder which constitution they want to return to...the original, after the bill of rights, after or before the 14th amendment, will women have the right to vote, after they propose a ban against gay marriage? Will they propose an amendment to overturn due process for terrorists? The Republicans have trashed the constitution for so many years, I wonder if anyone will ask these questions.

    February 17, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    Yeah, sure, sounds great. Unfortunately the last 50 years have shown that Republicans cannot adhere to this lofty rhetorical garbage.

    February 17, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Ken

    After 8 years of the liberal Bush, and now one year of the Marxist Obama, it is refreshing to see the nation waking up and realizing the value of our Conservative heritage – that has made us the greatest nation in human history. I hope we are not too late to correct the disastrous policies that are turning us into a totalitarian state.

    February 17, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Hugo

    You liberals are so out of touch, misinformed and completely clueless as to what is going on in our Nation. The GOP destroyed the economy, are you for real? The seeds were planted by BOTH parties over the last 40 years or so and then subsequently fertilized heavily these seeds of economic demise. You cannot provide for those that wont on the backs of those that do. We as a Nation are broke, we have allowed ourselves through our past leaders to become a Nation of consumers, subserveant to the whims of foreign Nations, we produce little, our jobs were exported and home mortgages became paper to be traded on the market by ruthless unethical people. A day of reckoning is upon us, get informed on what has truly transpired and not just what CNN or FOX tells you! If you want to know why Americas economy is in the crapper, look no further than Greenspan and his cronies under President Bill Clinton, the biggest market deregulation EVER!

    February 17, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Socialism...keeping police/fire stations, roads, justice system and the military out of the hands of Capitalists

    Hey, SocialismBad. I hope you take a look at my screen name. I changed it specifically to educate you.

    February 17, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. notfooledbydistractions

    What a steaming pile...

    "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."

    These folks were solidly behind the bush/cheney admin – remember them? They treated our constitution like a piece of toilet paper.

    This is the American Talliban. No thanks.

    February 17, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. sharon

    WOW...........THERE SURE ARE A FEW THAT WILL USE THOSE THAT LET THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Best check everything out first..............."ya think?"...........................

    Yep......"Ya Betcha"....................

    maybe ma palin could help ya.

    you know..........palinism................................

    February 17, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. american patriot

    You people still dont get it do you.

    Your Freedom and Liberties are under attack and your rights are being removed through Congress and the White House and have been for several years.

    You either stand NOW or lose your Freedom and REPUBLIC, it is that simple. Corrupt Healthcare Companies, Corrupt Congress laws of the United States Constituion being ignored and abolished by Poloticians.

    You should read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    YOU will see where you got your freedom and freedom of speach from.

    We owe the people who created those Laws and we owe it to them to DEFEND THEM with everything we have.

    In 2010 you will see the fall of the U.S and the second American Revolution and the worse DEPRESSION on the Planet.

    We have been warned over and over

    February 17, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Tom in FL

    Funny how Republicans only claim to want 'limited government' when they're not in charge. They should ask some 'real people' just what aspects of government they'd like to have less of: less Social Security? less Medicare? less protection from the terrifying terrorists? less money to protect their jobs? People don't want less government, and Republicans don't want to reduce the size of government. It's all phony platitudes.

    February 17, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. John in Tampa

    Just a reminder to all the 'conservative constitutionalists' out there:

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    That's quite a shopping list of reasons. Sounds expensive. If it's too expensive, What part of it do you think we should toss first?

    February 17, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. T

    As I read this I could almost here the National Anthem playing in the background .....................................................................

    ..............with a HUGE nuclear explosion at the end.

    We need to keep moving forward and thinking forward without forgetting the lessons of the past.

    February 17, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. marcus

    Never addressed the issues when they were in control of both Houses. Only now, when there is a Black man in office do they wake up.

    February 17, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. st. louis jake

    blah, blah, blah.....

    yet another manifesto from the far-right obama-haters.

    where were these stalwarts of the constitution when bush/cheney/rove and the republicans were using it for toilet paper? huh? huh? where?

    here is the essence:
    "It informs conservatism's firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith."

    interpretation – their idea of what constitutes a family (anti-gay,) their efforts to keep the "coloreds" out of their neighborhood (and confined to ethnic neighborhoods,) the community should be run by the folks with money (you can be my maid, but can't date my son,) and finally, they uphold faith (as long as it is bible-thumpin' christianity.)

    they still can’t believe that they lost the last election and still can’t believe that “one of them, you know, coloreds” went and got elected president.

    just go home boys.

    February 17, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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