A group of more than 80 conservative leaders plan to sign a document on Wednesday that signals a retrenchment to "founding principles." It was scheduled to be signed today, Wednesday, February 17, 2010, at 2:30 PM.
Here are the stated principles with my remarks inserted in red.
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 worldThey 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.
[The US Constitution allows for the promise of a just nation, the problem is that “we the people” haven’t always lived up to that lofty goal. We have stumbled enough times so that I don’t think we should be bragging about being a “just nation unlike any other in the world.” Other nations have made horrid mistakes, as we have, and we have striven to right the wrongs that have caused our Native Americans, African-American, Japanese-American, Chinese-American, Gay and Lesbian Americans as well as many religious minorities pain and suffering. To ignore this truth and pretend that this country, at many times in the past and even in the present, did not betray the Constitution, which the Mount Vernon Statement reveres, is to ignore our history and continue to live in a Edenic fantasy that never existed.]
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.
[Those are accusations which are not defined in this vague-sounding document. Which ideas exactly are under a “sustained attack?” What principles have been undermined and redefined? And where were these concerned conservatives during the last administration? Did they just come to see these sustained attacks, which they themselves said have been ongoing for decades, now that Mr. Obama is president? Which universities are undermining and redefining our Constitutional principles? Could they possibly mean Oral Roberts University where interracial dating among student was once prohibited, for example?]
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?
[This seems a strange paragraph. Thomas Jefferson himself believed that this country would flourish and be at its best as an agrarian society, where land-owning white men would be the ideal citizens to govern it. He could not have foreseen the Industrial Revolution or any of the other changes that have come to this country since his time. A wise populace learns to deal with change while holding onto its ideals. We’ve not always done this wisely, but as Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”]
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.
[It seems to me that most of the important changes in our history have come as a result of liberal thinking i.e. the abolitionists, the suffragists, the labor union movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Gay and Lesbian movement, to name a few. Those achievements in justice are a result of Constitutional liberalism “grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty….”]
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.
[Nowhere in the Constitution is nature’s “God” mentioned, nor is any god’s laws used as a basis for our Constitution. The Constitution expressly begins with “We The People…“ Nowhere does it say “Under God’s Law, We The People…“]
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
[Not always. See the gridlock and intransigency of the out-of-power minority political party. The popular will of the people is not being served so long as the minority party uses senatorial tradition and not Constitutional laws to thwart the will of the people.]
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.
[There will NEVER be “morality” in any sort of government so long at the institutions of that government are drenched in money from special interests and multi-national corporations in order to forward their agendas, and not the people’s. Corporate money is the real threat to moral self-government.
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.
[This last part implies that only conservatives believe in the rule of law, individual liberty, free enterprise, freedom, being against tyrants and for family, neighborhood and faith. That’s absurd on its face. Conservatives don’t own those principles. It seems to me like a grab at grandstanding theatrics for these conservatives to come together now--a little over one year into Mr. Obama’s still young presidency--and produce this manifesto. Where were they while the Bush Administration was trammeling their Conservative principles? If, as they themselves state, this has been going on for decades, why have they chosen this time and during this particular presidency to assert these principles in this statement? It is curious.]
Professor Darren Hutchinson of "Dissenting Justice" has a post up about the Mount Vernon Statement.