CONSERVATIVE LEADERS UNITE AND SIGN ON TO THE MOUNT VERNON STATEMENT
Historic Document Defines The Principles, Beliefs And Values Of The Conservative Movement
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Over 80 leaders, representing tens of millions of conservative activists nationwide, today signed The Mount Vernon Statement (www.themountvernonstatement.com), a declaration of leadership for a new generation of conservatives that defines the principles, values and beliefs of the conservative movement.
“With this statement, and its many signatories, a new day dawns for the conservative movement, said Edwin Feulner, Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation, and one of the drafters of the statement. It reasserts conservative principles, values and beliefs that are embraced by more people in this country than those of any political ideology. Fifty years ago, the federal government threatened to grow exponentially. Visionaries then gathered in Sharon, Connecticut, to articulate essential principles of American governance. Today, that threat is even greater, and so we must articulate anew the nature of Constitutional Conservatism in the 21st Century.”
“This is an historic moment as, since the 2008 election, conservative leaders from across the country have been meeting and planning a comeback. A year ago some pundits claimed that conservatism was effectively dead. But today, as revelations about Washington’s futility in addressing America’s problems continue to mount, the movement is alive and poised for a resurgence of Constitutional Conservative leadership,” said Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan and master of ceremonies for the signing event.
In September 1960 a similar document called the Sharon Statement was signed by the movement’s leaders (http://www.fiu.edu/~yaf/sharon.html) at the home of National Review Editor William F. Buckley, Jr., at his home in Sharon, Conn.Â Today’s signing event took place at the Collingwood Library and Museum in Alexandria, Va., part of the original Mount Vernon estate owned by George Washington.
In a demonstrable show of unity, The Mount Vernon Statement was signed by conservative leaders who represent all major elements of the conservative movement economic, social and national security. The signing ceremony was organized by, and an outgrowth of, the Conservative Action Project, which is chaired by Mr. Meese and designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Individuals may sign The Mount Vernon Statement as well by going to the website: www.themountvernonstatement.com.
“This event demonstrates that the conservative movement is vibrant, energized and organized to lead America into a renewed era of liberty and self government,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, and nephew of William F. Buckley, Jr.
“Conservative principles are timeless and effective. Americans are realizing this truth as they watch in horror as government officials violate the principles and practices that have America strong and good, said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. â€œThis is the right time with more and more citizens becoming involved to clearly and plainly lay out the foundational beliefs that bind us together, the values that will put American back on track.”
â€œThe strength of the American conservative movement has always been its firm adherence to the first principles of the American Founding. The Mount Vernon Statement is in that honored tradition, building on the Sharon Statement and offering a reaffirmation of the ideas of the most important document in our history the U.S. Constitution, said Lee Edwards a leading historian of the conservative movement and Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Edwards was at the Sharon Statement signing in September 1960.
Among other conservative leaders, signatories to The Mount Vernon Statement included: 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 and Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review and many others.
For more information, and to schedule interviews with conservative leaders and signatories to The Mount Vernon Statement, contact Keith Appell at (703)-683-5004, ext. 112 and firstname.lastname@example.org or Anne Marie Moran, ext. 115 and email@example.com.
Bulletin on the Mount Vernon Statement
Conservatives To Unveil New “Declaration Of Leadership.” Some 50 years after conservatives cobbled together a statement of principles that helped launch the modern conservative movement, many are coming together again this week at one of George Washington’s original real estate holdings to issue a new statement meant to guide the movement into the 21st Century. In a bow to the founding father, it will be called “the Mount Vernon Statement” and is meant to define conservative principles, beliefs and values going into the next century, said a spokesman. Tomorrow at Collingwood Estate in Alexandria, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese and 80 other conservatives will issue the statement that, in part, declares: “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.” Excerpts were provided to the Bulletin today. The new statement comes 50 years after William F. Buckley Jr. signed the so-called “Sharon Statement,” named for his home town in Connecticut. Like the new pact, the Sharon statement focused on economic, social and national security issues. The timing of the signing is meant to impact this week’s annual CPAC conference. — Bulletin exclusive from U.S. News
Statement by Ed Meese on the Mount Vernon Statement
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a critical point—a turning point–in the history of our Republic. We can take the road to more and more government intrusion in every aspect of our lives and our society—as liberals are proposing—or we can take the road to liberty and honor once again the self-evident truths of the American Founding.
That is why we are here—to recommit ourselves to the ideas and principles that have made America a just, prosperous and free nation like no other nation in the world.
If he were here, I am confident that President Reagan would be among the first to sign the Mount Vernon Statement and its call for a Constitutional conservatism.
The President’s trust in the people and his love of freedom were rooted in two essential documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. From his national televised speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid in 1964 to his farewell address to the nation in January 1989, Reagan turned again and again to the wisdom and the philosophy of the Founders—just as the Mount Vernon Statement does.
One political scientist estimated that Reagan talked more about the Founders than any other president “in living memory.” Indeed, he mentioned the Framers or the Founding Fathers more often than all of his nine predecessors combined.
In his 1964 address for Goldwater, Reagan declared that the idea “that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.”
The Mount Vernon Statement asserts that at this critical time America needs a Constitutional conservatism that traces governmental “authority to the consent of the governed.”
In his farewell address, President Reagan reiterated the core idea of the American Revolution. He said: “Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the people.”
“`We the people,’” he said, “tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us.” The idea of “we the people,” he explained, was the underlying basis for everything he had tried to do as President.
The Mount Vernon Statement we are about to sign honors “the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life” and calls for the application of the principle of limited government to every proposal of our elected representatives.
Some are insisting that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But as the Mount Vernon Statement asks, “where would they lead us—forward or backward, up or down?”
The change that we urgently need, as set forth in the Mount Vernon Statement, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this critical time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty.
Statement by Ed Feulner on the Mount Vernon Statement
Since the founding of the Republic more than two centuries ago, Americans have debated the question: what is the proper role of government in a free society?
James Madison wrote in Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But the Founders recognized the less angelic side of human nature and built in the Constitution a balance between liberty, for which they had fought a revolution, and order, which would protect the rights of all, not only the most powerful.
Limited government, free enterprise, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense—these, as we have heard from the previous speakers, were the core beliefs of the National Review Statement of Purpose in 1955 and the Sharon Statement in 1960.
And they are the core beliefs of the Mount Vernon Statement, which rests on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us—thinkers like Friedrich von Hayek, Richard Weaver, and Russell Kirk; political leaders like Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan; and conservative activists like Bob Schuchman and Paul Weyrich.
As Weaver argued in Ideas Have Consequences, ideas like nominalism, rationalism, and materialism led to the “moral dissolution” of the West. Alas, they led man to turn away from first principles and true knowledge.
In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek asserted that “planning leads to dictatorship” and the “direction of economic activity” inevitably means the “suppression of freedom.” Hayek proposed a different road—the road of individualism and “classical liberalism” based on a government carefully limited by law that encourages competition and the functioning of a free society.
In the last chapter of The Conservative Mind, Kirk forewarned that, confronted by collectivists and the architects of the New Society, conservatives must “defend constitutional democracy as a repository of tradition and order”—the American tradition of ordered liberty.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we are here today and that is what we must do.
Before reading the Mount Vernon Statement, I want to acknowledge the participation and contributions of the draft committee—Karlyn Bowman, Tony Perkins, Ken Raasch, Matthew Spalding, and Lee Edwards—as well as the guidance of Ed Meese, Don Devine, Dave Keene, and Becky Norton Dunlop.
It is now my honor and privilege to read the text of the Mount Vernon Statement and then invite you to join us and sign this historic document as the Founders did in Independence Hall in July 1776.
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 those who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.
Every 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 that 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 correct place 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.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is our statement to America and to history that we must now stand firmly behind. It represents the conservative movement’s common purpose as we move forward. It is our call to action.
In honor of the proprietor of this statement’s namesake, let us recall the defining moment of the life of George Washington. On Christmas day in 1776, General Washington led a column of the Continental Army to New Jersey to launch a surprise attack on the enemy troops quartered in Trenton. The success of the attack and those that followed paved the way for the ultimate victory of the American Revolution. But let us remember that upon crossing the Delaware River, neither Washington nor his Officers and men knew how their efforts would turn out. Indeed, they might have failed. Because they believed in liberty and willingly fought for it, by God’s grace, a new Nation was formed and our freedom was born.
Over the course of the next two centuries, that freedom was rarely without enemies—from within and from abroad—but it was constantly defended and made better. With every new challenge, spirited men and women answered history’s call and fought to preserve the principles of America’s founding. Just one decade into this new century, the dangers we Americans now face are as great as they have ever been. And the stakes have never been higher. Just as Washington and our Founding Fathers had the Declaration of Independence to inspire them as they fought, so now do we have the words of the Mount Vernon Statement to guide us in the 21st century.
Henceforth, the Mount Vernon Statement should—indeed—must serve as the tie that binds the conservative movement together as we confront and defeat the incredible challenges that face our nation. It shall define us, unify us, and remind us of our vital mission to secure a free and just society for every future generation to enjoy and defend.
As the signers of this statement, we have a solemn duty to spread this message not only to every end of the conservative movement but also through every avenue of communication in America. This includes reprinting the statement’s text in our magazines, our journals, our blogposts and disseminating the video of today’s proceedings across the internet. If we are to inspire Americans to follow our lead we must be diligent in making this statement available to them in each and every medium.
My colleagues, within our lifetimes we have seen the conservative movement grow, prosper, and achieve transformational success. In the last century it was our ideas—those upon which America was founded—that saved the world from tyranny and kept our nation the last best hope of man on earth. If we are to preserve freedom in this new era we must stand behind the principles of the Mount Vernon Statement in order to stand down the wave of liberalism and progressivism that seeks to remake and redefine America. Defending and promoting a constitutional conservatism based on first principles is the only way we can ensure that free government survives.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, our chosen path forward is “plain and just”—it is “a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”
Let the words of the Mount Vernon Statement carry us forward into the battles that await us. Against the challenges we face, we must be victorious. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a country to save.
John Fund on the Mount Vernon Statement
From Sharon to Mount Vernon
It’s been half a century since conservative leaders gathered at the home of the late William F. Buckley Jr. in Sharon, Connecticut and issued what became known as the Sharon Statement. A declaration of principles, it helped shape two generations of conservatives as they reacted to events ranging from Vietnam to the Reagan Revolution and the Cold War.
Now that President Obama is striving for a renaissance of liberal activism, some 80 conservative leaders, led by former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, gathered on the grounds of George Washington’s estate last week to sign an updated version of the Sharon Statement. Dubbed “The Mount Vernon Statement,” it is designed in the words of author and radio commentator Mark Levin “to unite all conservatives in a natural fusion movement based on constitutional principles and freedom.”
“There is a natural sense of cooperation that conservatives can easily achieve,” says Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and a shaper of the document. “We all want to be left alone, and it’s not hard to come up with a set of principles that points to that goal.”
The lofty set of statements tie the signers to “the ideas of the American Founding” while deploring that today “the federal government ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.” Potential flashpoints between conservative factions were avoided because no policy specifics were identified. Social conservatives, libertarians and national-security hawks could all live with a document that calls for “supporting America’s national interest in advancing freedom” but also calls for “prudently considering what we should do to that end.”
Organizers of the Mount Vernon Statement clearly hope it will be read and discussed by those in the Tea Party movement. “If you go out to these gatherings, you find a lot of [people] were never involved at all until they got scared by the direction of the country,” says David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union. “It’s vital that when people come into a movement, they’re attracted to the core beliefs.”