I have now had a chance to read the Mount Vernon Statement through two times, having reviewed several passages even more than that. On the whole, am pleased with its direction. For such a short, succinct document, I do think it could have been better written.
Some of the lines sound downright clunky, more like a blogger hacking out a piece in the middle of the night to provide fresh content for his readers than writers crafting a document to define a moment in American conservatism. Expressions like “the priceless principle of ordered liberty” sound more appropriate for a MasterCard commercial than in a statement defining “constitutional conservatism” for the current generation.
That said, I’m pleased that the document focuses on unifying conservative principles and largely eschews divisive social issues, paying them lip service with references to morality, religious liberty, faith and virtue. Gay people are capable of living moral and virtuous lives while practicing our faith freely and respecting the right of others to do so a well. We can thus embrace the document as have a number of social conservative.
I particularly like that it strives to unite “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.
The document then delineates five core principles of “constitutional conservatism,” among them: honoring “the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.” I do like that emphasis on liberty–and free enterprise.
I expect I’ll sign it. It does seem a step in the right direction, but could use some language drawn from the Gipper’s first inaugural:
In short, the statement could use a little more Reagan, his ideas as well as his rhetoric.