Conservatives To Sign 'Mount Vernon Statement': Principles For The Obama Era

A group of more than 80 conservative leaders plan to sign a document on Wednesday that signals a retrenchment to "founding principles."

The document will be called The Mount Vernon Statement in honor of the location of the signing ceremony. The signers include a who's who of conservative heavy weights -- names like Grover Norquist, Ed Meese, Richard Viguerie, Edwin Feulner and Alfred Regnery.

The proclamation, based on the Sharon statement -- a conservative declaration signed in 1960, that is credited with helping "launch and define the conservative movement that led to the recruitment, development and election of numerous conservative leaders" -- breaks down what the conservative activists see to be the primary responsibility of government.

"The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles," the statement reads. These founding principles, the drafters believe, can be broadly-defined as Constitutional conservatism. They then provide a short bulleted list of the way they believe these principles should apply to government.

* It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.
* 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.
* 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.
* It informs conservatism's firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith.

The drafters describe their reasons for the timing of this new manifesto:

"In light of the challenges facing the country and the need for clarity in the age of Obama, The Mount Vernon Statement, modeled on the Sharon Statement issued on Sept. 11, 1960, 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."

Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, gave his reason for signing on to the statement in a piece written for Fox News:

What I find most interesting and attractive about the Mount Vernon statement is how simple, easy to understand and explain this commitment to individual liberty and limited government is. The truths we endorse once again have not changed since the American Revolution. They will not change in another 200 years.

Others, however, have criticized the Mount Vernon Declaration as vague, idealistic and nostalgia-filled document that doesn't actually say much.

Salon's Gabriel Winant offered his take on the declaration of principles:

The GOP activists can get away with wishing it was 1776 because they don't actually have to go home and face angry electorates after acting out an anachronistic fantasy. Congressional leaders like Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can't afford to play pretend all the time. Back in 1776, nobody needed Medicare, because the average lifespan was around 35. In 2010, just citing "self-evident" truths ain't going to cut it.

But some Republicans may not agree with that assessment. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said on Wednesday that GOP leaders should sign on to the statement or "be replaced"."

"If our leaders cannot agree to the Mount Vernon Statement, they are part of the problem," DeMint tweeted.

The signing is set to take place at Mount Vernon's Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism at 2:30 p.m. ET.