WASHINGTON -- The most influential conservative grassroots leaders nationwide signed the Mount Vernon statement recommitting their movement to constitutional conservatism.
"This is something that all conservatives -- those that are concerned about national security, those that are concerned about economic opportunity, those that are concerned about religious liberty and personal responsibility -- there' something here for everyone because this is simply a restatement to this generation of those enduring founding principles," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
In the works since last summer, the one-page document seeks to unify conservatives in the era of Obama
The signing ceremony is took place at a library that was part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.
"For those of us striving hard every day to defend our nation's freedoms from liberalism's belief that an ever-increasing government is the cure for every care, the Mount Vernon Statement is a breath of fresh air that reminds us that constitutional conservatism need not be reinvented or poll-tested in each new election cycle," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the House Republican Conference.
"It merely needs to be restated and practiced, as its principles are timeless," he added. "I am therefore honored to be included as a signer of this proclamation."
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., chairman of the Steering Committee, also announced he will sign the statement.
"America became the world's greatest nation because of the freedom of our people to take risks and succeed without the heavy hand of government dragging them down," DeMint said. "This didn't happen by accident, our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to limit our federal government's ability to interfere with our lives.
"Unfortunately, many of our elected leaders have forgotten this," he added. "They see no limits and create new government programs to address every problem. This has led to crushing debt and crippling taxes that threaten to pass on to our children and grandchildren a nation that is weaker than the one we inherited. We must act boldly if we're going to save freedom."
The event came on the eve of annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) which brings thousand of conservatives from around the country to Washington D.C. every year.
The long term goal at CPAC and of the Mount Vernon statement is reestablish First Principles of Constitutional Conservatism.
The more immediate goal is to galvanize -- for maximum strength -- the various factions of the movement in advance of the 2010 midterm elections.
The statement draws heavily on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
It will speak directly to the three pillars of the modern movement: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives.
It will underscore the founding principle that constitutional self-government should be moral, responsible, and limited.
While some Republicans have suggested in recent years that the GOP moderate its social views, or be more tolerant of government growth, or even accept bellicose tyranny overseas, conservatives argue now is the time for more backbone, not less.
Conservatives, Republicans, right leaning independents, libertarians and Teapartiers are searching for direction and leadership…listen up... today the leadership of some of the biggest grass roots conservative groups are speaking out.
The best way to illustrate the importance of this event is to list some of the power players participating:
Becky Norton Dunlop, president of the Council for National Policy David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America Former Attorney General Ed Meese Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com Alfred Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator T. Kenneth Cribb, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness Kenneth Blackwell, Coalition for a Conservative Majority Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring and Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review.
At least two additional participants at the ceremony identified themselves during the roll call as representatives of Tea Party groups.
Organizers say no elected politicians were invited.
The signing ceremony harkens back to a similar event nearly 50 years ago at the home of the late William F Buckley in Sharon, Connecticut.
The Sharon Statement was penned at a meeting of 90 young conservatives as they created a group known as “Young Americans For Freedom.”
Their statement amounted to a guideline for young conservatives in the turbulent 60’s that individual liberty, limited government, a free-market, a strong economy, and strong defense are fundamental American ideals conservatives must defend.
There is no doubt today that conservatives again feel compelled to protect constitutional liberty anew.
This document seeks to be a conservative line in the sand against left-wing political advances during democratic control of Congress and the White House.
The Tea Party movement has shown full well that large swaths of previously disengaged Americans fear for the future of the republic.
Organizers say modern constitutional conservatism requires application of the rule of law to all proposals, advancing freedom, and opposing tyranny.
God, they say, is proudly mentioned - by name - in the Mount Vernon statement.
Conservatives now plan to directly challenge the notion that positive change in America means abandoning old ideas for new.
They assert instead that positive change means reaching back and re-embracing founding principles rather than rushing for new alternatives.
By late summer Republican politicians in Congress hope to lay out their 2010 election agenda.
Today Conservatives grass roots leaders hope their Mount Vernon statement shows Republican politicians what should motivate them.