Last week it was reported that, on Wednesday, a large group of conservative leaders were going to unveil what they call “definitive statement” regarding the central principles of the conservative movement, to be known as “The Mount Vernon Statement.”
And apparently it is a pretty big deal, as it is already getting all sorts of media coverage … most of which makes it pretty clear that, despite all the hype, this new manifesto is really going to say anything at all:
The “Mount Vernon Statement,” to be signed on an Alexandria estate once owned by George Washington, is billed as a declaration of conservative values and beliefs. Organizers say it is modeled after the 1960 Sharon Statement, signed at the Connecticut home of William F. Buckley Jr., which helped usher in the modern conservative movement.
“We don’t talk about specific issues or parties or the current political situation,” said Alfred S. Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator magazine. He helped draft the statement as part of the Conservative Action Project, a new group seeking to coordinate the chorus of voices. “It’s a philosophical foundation, based on the concept of constitutional conservatism. It’s written so most conservatives can say, ‘Yeah, this is just what I think.’ “
Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, organizers released only an excerpt of the two-page document. It says in part, “The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant. . . . The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles.”
The gathering of more than 80 leaders, to be led by Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese III, comes as the conservative movement’s many strands are joining together in opposition to Obama’s policies — and to moderate Republicans they see as insufficiently conservative. The network of loosely affiliated conservative blogs, radio hosts, “tea party” organizers and D.C. institutions is spreading through new media and increasingly coordinating its message.
“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.”
While I generally don’t agree with right-wing direct mail guru Richard Viguerie on anything, I have to say that I think he’s on to something when he calls this manifesto little more than embarrassing pablum.