Today at George Washington’s historic home, the leaders of several conservative organizations signed a document titled “The Mount Vernon Statement.” This document purports to restate the principles and ideas of the American founding and articulate a unifying “Constitutional conservatism.”
Although I agree with some of what this document contains, there are two statements which taint the rest of the project. These statements describe this proposed Constitutional conservatism as follows:
“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.”
The first of the two statements makes me uneasy simply because it is so ambiguous. What is a policy agenda that encourages free enterprise and economic reforms grounded in market solutions? I can’t tell if this is an endorsement of laissez faire principles or more of the Keynesian economics that we have seen lately.
The second statement seems to endorse the position that the United States is justified in meddling in foreign affairs if it is “advancing freedom” or “opposing tyranny.” I would be much more comfortable with a statement like “provide for the common defense.” Alas, the Constitution’s language isn’t broad enough to justify foreign wars to secure commercial interests, so apparently the authors of The Mount Vernon Statement had to insert something more flexible.
Now I understand that this document is probably just an effort to reunite a conservative movement that has fractured over disagreements about fundamental issues. But the reunification that this document proposes simply ignores the problems. If these people want to build a political movement, they should try using plain language in the style of Ron Paul. You may disagree with what Ron Paul says, but it is clear what he stands for.
As of this writing, the document’s website states that over 7,500 people had signed to show their support. Maybe it will do some good, but I expect that The Mount Vernon Statement will be forgotten within the month.