Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reports that than 100 conservative leaders joined together today to celebrate the release of the Mount Vernon Statement -- a document he believes has reaffirmed conservative commitment to Constitutional Conservatism and the principles of the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I wonder if the document goes far enough. At first blush it appears more nuanced than substantive. Perhaps, however, I'm being too critical. I'm actually looking for genuine conservatives, of which Tony Perkins certainly is one, to explain in plain English just what the "pursuit of happiness" means and the limitations to such a statement.

The document states, "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." In the 18th Century this was a clearly understood statement, which met with little equivocation, even by unbelievers. In this contemporary, pluralistic society such terms need defining.

While I agree with the intent of those who formulated the statement, it appears to not be so notable a statement as to create even angst amongst those who are the enemies of traditional constitutional government. Not one of these signers need fear the loss of position, property, or prestige over the signing of such an innocuous statement.

I believe the time has come for bold leadership in America. The kind of leadership which, in the tradition of the founding fathers, risks everything for the purpose of restoring our constitutional government.

While I will sign the agreement, I believe it to be far short of what is needed.


Loren said...

Hi Mike,

I agree that the statement is general and somewhat vague. Perhaps it was deliberately made that way to maximize the number of people who could (would) sign it.

I would like to have seen some particulars in the following list:

"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." How?

"* 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." Where does it do this? Is this 'activism' on their part?

"* 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." I didn't check either document, but where do they address foreign policy vis a vis what the US should do to advance freedom or oppose tyranny in other countries? I only recall statements regarding freedom for the colonies and citizens of the US.

"* It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith." Again, where? I understand the 'faith' component because of the first amendment, but defense of family, neighborhood & community? I guess the second amendment would fit.

Overall, it just doesn't pack much punch.

Mike Rasberry said...


My concern is that we conservatives are often guilty of providing great idea frameworks without the particulars. I can think of no conservative who who would disagee with "The Statement." But I know that most moderates and a large number of liberals would agree also. That is the vagueness issue for me.

The Constitution has been handled by liberals in the same way the Bible was handled by liberals before the Conservative Resurgance in Southern Baptist life, i.e. haphazardly to meet their particular agenda.