Thursday, February 18, 2010

Short Analysis Of The Mount Vernon Statement

Yesterday, a group of conservatives, consisting of some prominent figures from the right, such as the president of the Heritage Foundation, Edwin Feulner, Jr., or president of Concerned Women for America, Wendy Wright, as well as some former Reagan officials and chairpersons of conservative organizations, got together to release The Mount Vernon Statement, which according to it's own website, is based on a previous article, The Sharon Statement, and "is a defining statement of conservative beliefs, values and principles penned by a broad coalition of conservative leaders representing a wide spectrum of the movement including fiscal, social, cultural and national security conservatives." According to the website, the statement was issued because in this time period, named the "age of Obama," the nation seems to lack direction and has fallen away from the conservative ideals that this nation was supposedly founded upon. I have copied the statement for those interested to read below, as I will also like to make some observations afterwords:
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 selfevident 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.

1 It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
2 It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
3 It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
4 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.
5 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.
It seems that conservatives are beginning to outline why they say no, but in giving a reason behind their actions, you can see that their stance is definitely full of holes, and the main portion of their argument is essentially a doctrine catering to the base, with vague statements that can only be interpreted with a secret decoder ring.

According to the website, The Mount Vernon Statement is based on The Sharon Statement, adopted in conference at Sharon, Connecticut, on 11 September 1960, which was the founding document for the Young Americans for Freedom. I thought it was interesting to note the date because I am sure that some of the conservative crazies such as Glenn Beck would believe the date to be a sign of divinity. Essentially, the first document was a call for limited government, economic freedom, protection of free will, and the defense of national sovereignty, which was under assault from the greatest single threat - communism. This document is essentially a cold war relic which pretty much calls for partisan politics unless of course you adhere to the strictest of laissez-faire policy and the smallest possible federal government, leading to the dominance of states over the majority of issues. One can definitely see the influence of this document on the most recent conservative statement, with an added emphasis on the protection of "family, neighborhood, community, and faith," which is essentially Republican phrasing for denying rights to homosexuals and destroying the separation of church and state, to allow for a more prominent role of religion in American government.

I have noticed a couple lines in the document that seem to be out of place, solely because the current conservative movement, such as the Tea Party movement, do not believe in the abolishment of tyranny or the upholding the highest standards of our founding principles. Sure the teabaggers are against terrorism and dictatorships, but ask them in regards to the treatment of terrorists and "enemy combatants" and you will most likely hear a rant against the humane treatment of these individuals and the controversy of trying these people in civilian courts. Considering one of the founding principles of the Mount Vernon document is to support "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." In supporting our national interest and advancing freedom, one would probably believe in extending the application of American beliefs in the formation of new governments that were once dictatorial in nature but are now democratic, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone who would also desire to end tyranny abroad would be hypocritical if they were to ignore tyranny at home, but that is exactly what these modern "conservatives" wish to do. They would like to detain humans indefinitely away from their homeland, and maybe one day try them in military courts. How is that any different then the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Iran?

Also looking at principles three and four, the conservative agenda is to honor "the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life" and encourage "free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions," but it also seems evident that conservatives are willing to place the marketplace over individual freedoms. Just consider the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the McCain-Feingold Act, which now guarantees freedoms, that were once reserved to only citizens, to industry as well. I also like to reference homeowners associations a lot in my writing and with good reason. Republicans seem to side with the association, which as an entity infringes on the personal freedoms of the homeowner, and in many instances enjoy greater protection under the law then the homeowner, but when faced with regulation, conservatives tend to side with the industry because any regulation in favor of the homeowner is an attack against the freedom of the marketplace.

Essentially, this document is nothing more then the conservative base masquerading as a freedom loving group that is willing to embrace everybody in the love of the founding fathers, but in reality, they only seek power to restrict rights and freedoms that they see as a violation of God's law and their interpretation of the Constitution. It seems that Republicans are consistently trying to make statements and rebuttals. In regards to the congressional debates regarding stimulus and health care legislation, the conservatives go on the attack. Regarding something such as the State of the Union address, conservatives quickly rally to offer a statement of their own. Conservatives are quick to try and frame every situation and this is exactly where Democrats lack the skills or organization to get their message across. While some Republican attempts fall flat, such as Bobby Jindall's response to Obama after his first State of the Union address, some can be very effective, such as the constant shilling on Fox News for various "conservative candidates" - just consider New York's District 23 race between Dede Scozzafava, Doug Hoffman, and Bill Ownens and the various governor elections or the most recent Scott Brown win in Massachusetts, but I will bet that there would be no Democratic response to this Mount Vernon Statement. Top Democrats will most likely stick their head in the sand then confront Republicans. this is why I would like to point out the liberal response to The Sharon Statement, which was released a couple years later by the Students for a Democratic Society, titled The Port Huron Statement.

The central theme of The Port Huron Statement would be a call for action against the hypocrisy of the politics of the time, and while there was a focus placed on the Cold War and racism, you can definitely understand the correlation between that document and the conservatives most recent attempt at reinvention. The Port Huron Document explains that America was the "wealthiest and strongest country in the world" and that America, through the United Nations, would "distribute Western influence," such as freedom and equality for each individual, ensured by a "government of, by, and for the people." The statement called for a refusal of apathy, silence, and complacency of policy that was against the very nature of the founding principles of this nation and that in actuality, the current system "frustrates democracy by confusing the individual citizen, paralyzing policy discussion, and consolidating the irresponsible power of military and business interests." If you consider the various tea party protests where a call to protect business interests and strengthen the military, you would see a direct corruption of American policies by these various interest groups. The tea party adherents are only pawns. They are pawns to the military industrial complex. They are pawns of Wall Street. They are pawns of the power elite. Consider the Republican embrace of this so-called grass roots movement? It lacks all the qualities of a grass roots movement, but the power elite, namely the GOP, are playing to the masses to retain power while continuing to satisfy their corporate interests. Need proof? Consider Senator Richard Shelby who has attacked government spending and has played the fiscally conservative card while using a form of extortion to get the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI’s Terrorist Device Analytical Center for his state.

Conservatives have consistently played both sides of the fence and are constantly misrepresenting facts for their own benefit; to maintain their power elite status. They are constantly making claims of a secret Marxist/Communist/Leftist/etc. conspiracy that is aiming to destroy this nation and rewrite the constitution, but with every statement the conservatives release, with every rebuttal to the administration, and with every fringe belief being given a national platform, it is the conservative movement that aims to rewrite the constitution in their own words and to eliminate protections for all opposing views, and in essence, the millions of Americans who disagree with them.

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