Mount Vernon Statement

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: The Limited-Government Big Tent

By Michael G. Franc

In February an impressive cross-section of national conservative leaders, including one Kathryn Lopez of NRO fame, released the Mount Vernon Statement. This succinct document eloquently sets forth the tenets of constitutional conservatism. To me, its most significant passage is the one that summarizes how the “natural fusion” provided by America’s founding principles unites the various traditions of modern American conservatism:

[Constitutional conservatism] 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 Contract From America sets forth a similar case for limited government, arguing: “When our government ventures beyond [those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people] and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.”

Its policy platform calls on lawmakers to first, do no harm: repeal Obamacare, jettison the regulatory nightmare of cap-and-trade, and reject tax increases of any kind. On the proactive side, the Contract calls on Congress to approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a “simple and fair single-rate tax system,” an “all of the above” energy policy that would revive domestic energy production, an end to earmarks, and a hard cap on overall federal spending.

Continue reading at National Review Online

Grassroots Activists Help Launch Historic “Contract from America”

Download a hardcopy of the official press release here.

On April 15th, hundreds of local Tea Party and limited government groups around the country will join together to announce the launch of the “Contract from America,” a grassroots legislative blueprint for 2010 and beyond. Originally proposed by Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party activist and National Coordinator for the initiative’s chief organizing group Tea Party Patriots, this project is intended to present a different kind of agenda for our federal lawmakers: unlike the Contract with America introduced in the 1990s, everyday citizens proposed and voted on every plank of the Contract from America.

Grassroots activists from across the country visited the website to choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 action items that committed Americans from all walks of life proposed. The top ten issues comprise the final Contract. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result is not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. After garnering nearly half a million votes in less than two months, the Contract from America has now been finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

And the top ten are…

1. Protect the Constitution
2. Reject Cap & Trade
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
6. End Runaway Government Spending
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
9. Stop the Pork
10. Stop the Tax Hikes

We are proud to join with millions of Tea Party activists across the country to announce the arrival of the Contract from America and the exit of elected officials who continue to ignore calls for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally-limited government, and free markets.

L.A. TIMES: Conservatives Draw up a New ‘Contract’

A series of manifestoes, from Republicans and ‘tea party’ activists, harks back to the GOP’s victorious 1994 ‘Contract with America’ campaign.

By Kathleen Hennessey

Although “tea party” activists and other conservatives claim kinship with the founding fathers and the Spirit of ’76, their emerging strategy for the November elections has more in common with the Spirit of ’94 — the year Republicans ended 40 years of Democratic dominance on Capitol Hill.

Conservative strategists centered the 1994 Republican campaign on a “Contract with America.” This year, GOP leaders in the House have pledged to issue their own, updated version of that agenda, which is widely credited with having helped Republicans focus their message and win a historic victory.

But this time, the declaration of principles that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio has promised will have to play in a crowded field.

A version of the tea party-backed “Contract From America” was unveiled last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual showcase of leaders and activists on the right. The unveiling came a day after another group — including many of the elders of conservatism — announced their own manifesto, dubbed the Mount Vernon statement after its signing at a library near George Washington’s estate.

Newt Gingrich, chief architect of the 1994 Contract with America, also has weighed in, publishing his version of a new contract in this month’s Newsmax magazine.

The plethora of manifestoes reflects a heightened energy among Republicans, and also shows the work the GOP has to do in uniting the party.

Reflecting that lack of unity, former Republican House leader Dick Armey, now a leading voice of the limited-government, anti-tax tea party movement, said the tea party contract wouldn’t be necessary “if Republicans had the credibility to do it themselves. They don’t.”

Armey’s Washington-based advocacy group, FreedomWorks, has endorsed the “Contract From America,” which bills itself as culled from the collective wisdom of Internet activists. Its organizer, Houston attorney Ryan Hecker, has been soliciting policy ideas through a website for months and has selected 22 that will be narrowed to 10 through an online vote.

Many of the original suggestions on Hecker’s site, contractfromamerica.com, might be difficult for mainstream Republicans and moderate voters to swallow: abolishing the Department of Education, dismantling the IRS and establishing an official U.S. language.

Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times…

WEEKLY STANDARD: Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

By Mary Katharine Ham

It was a good week for proclamations, with Washington conservative leaders, tea party activists, and the GOP all touting statements of principle as thousands of conservatives came to town for the annual CPAC conference. The GOP’s statement has yet to be released, but each group’s intentions have nonetheless been scrutinized and parsed by the media in what feels like a political version of the eHarmony compatibility test.

Will the tea partiers drag the GOP toward the unelectable fringe? Will the conservative movement tap into the antiestablishment energy of the tea partiers? Will the Republican party adopt the ideas of either? Can they all come together without sullying the grassroots authenticity of the tea party movement? Will they or won’t they form a third party? Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship, or is someone going to get used?

Sixteen miles from the Capitol, at the Mount Vernon home of President George Washington, a group of conservatism’s gray eminences gathered to sign the Mount Vernon Statement—a noncontroversial (to conservatives) manifesto to unite and recommit their movement to the “ideas of the American Founding” in the “critical political and policy battles ahead.”

As a George Washington impersonator presided over the signing of the oversized Declaration-style document, a couple of newcomers mingled with such Beltway fixtures as former attorney general Ed Meese and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler of tea party Patriots, a loosely organized national umbrella group, had come to town for the unveilings of both this document and a tea party document.

It wasn’t the only odd juxtaposition of outsiders with insiders this week. A handful of tea party leaders had an hours-long meeting with RNC chair Michael Steele at the Capitol Hill Club—a locale the media gleefully chortled was too elitist for the group. “The club is a place for Oysters Rockefeller and pictures of Eisenhower, not tricorn hats and Don’t-Tread-on-Me flags,” Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post (proving either he had never set foot in the decidedly non-swank building or assumed his readers wouldn’t know better).

But what the press often portrays as a prickly fight over the soul of the Republican party looked more like a first date, with both sides attempting to make a good impression. The tea partiers wanted to introduce themselves, and Republicans and conservative leaders were happy to meet them in light of their new electoral credibility after Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.

“The atmosphere was very positive,” said RNC communications director Doug Heye of the meeting, which he said was initiated by tea party activists and ran more than an hour beyond its hour-long slot on Steele’s schedule. Steele “made it very clear that he was going to answer every question. I think that really created a lot of good will with the people who were there in the room.”

When tea party activists held an unveiling for their own document— the Contract From America—at CPAC on Thursday, heavy hitters like former House majority leader Dick Armey and Senator Jim DeMint were there, but noticeably took a back seat to tea party activists, who referred to themselves as “leaderless” no fewer than five times.

Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer who devised the plan to create a tea party platform using thousands of ideas and online votes from activists, exemplified the unpolished, grassroots nature of the press conference when he fumbled the microphone while stalling for DeMint’s arrival. As the mike’s crash quieted, he smiled and said, “As you can tell I’m kind of a newbie at this stuff.”

Like Hecker, many of the tea party activists at CPAC for the first time this year acknowledged they are new at the game, but are also confident that’s their strength. Polling suggests they are right, with voters sour on Washington and both parties. As for the politicians, they made sure to show proper respect to the new activists. Every major speaker gave kudos to the tea party movement from the CPAC dais on Thursday.

House minority leader John Boehner was no exception. “The Republican party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” he said. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
Continue reading Mary Katharine Ham’s article at the Weekly Standard…