Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is the Mount Vernon Statement all it could be?

A group of conservatives got together and produced what is supposed to be a defining document for conservatism in the 21st Century. They called it the Mount Vernon Statement, as it was signed at Mount Vernon, the home for President George Washington.

I applaud their efforts and have signed the statement in support.

However, as a 'defining' document, I think it comes up short. I'm a Goldwater Republican and a particular fan of the Sharon Statement because I think it is more direct, more concise and more - well - 'defining.'

You can read both for yourself and make your own decision, but I had an interesting discussion with a group of fellow conservative bloggers/writers, and while we don't want to discourage support of the Mount Vernon Statement, we don't believe it defines conservatism with the words necessary to convey what we consider it to be.

Warner Todd Huston, one of the bloggers in the group, was inspired by the discussion to critique the statement - and come up with one of his own.

He acknowledges, as do I, that writing for 1 is easier than writing for 80, but I think Warner's done a better job than the conservative leaders in characterizing, identifying and expounding upon the principles that conservatives believe.

David Franke, who was present in Sharon, CT, and signed the Sharon Statement, has his own perspective of the new effort. As you contemplate what it means to be conservative, today, I hope you'll read his column on LewRockwell.com: "50 Years Downhill Since the Sharon Statement."


Kadim said...

Some good links. I enjoyed the intellectual exercise as I woke up.

The Mount Vernon statement pursues a conservatism defined by neo-conservatism and social conservatism. Neither of which I consider founding values, but then again, I've got libertarian leanings.

I also find it arrogant, but that is undoubtedly due to the people who were writing it. The Sharon Statement was written by people who were desiring to change things and working up towards it, the Mount Vernon statement comes from the elite.

At any rate, I had been meaning to send you this article, because I wanted to see your thoughts.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kadim - your conclusion is the same as that of many of my friends...

I'll look at the article and let you know my thoughts on it - but it probably won't be until later...

Maggie Thurber said...

Kadim...I believe the main premise of the article is faulty. There has been conservative backlash - primarily in the form of the Tea Parties. Conservatives are rejecting 'RINO' candidates and legislators and there is a growing emphasis within the GOP to forgo 'incumbency' in favor of philosophy.

But the backlash is not against the conservative philosophies or capitalism - the backlash in the U.S. is against individuals who say they're conservative, but don't act that way.

We wouldn't have a Tea Party Movement if the GOP had remained true to its core principles.

Then the article presumes that a Republican is the same as a conservative. That's clearly not the case. Bush was a Republican but really upset conservatives with many of his actions. So as the article examines the successful election of Republicans, it assumes that indicates no backlash for the principles. Again, that's clearly not the case.

I don't follow the politics in other countries enough to know if the article is correct when it comes to some of the other democracies it cites...

I also question any poll that suggests Americans believe the government should take over industries - I think the only people I've heard in favor of government ownership of GM are the politicians and the higher-ups at GM who wanted the action rather than face the outcome of a 'free' market.

Of course, that then gets us into a conversation about capitalism and whether or not our markets are, indeed, free in any sense of the term.

Government intervention distorts the market - whether the intervention is big or small. Some regulation may be desireable for legitimate constitutional purposes, but the market is so regulated in ways that damage it, I doubt anyone today would recognize what a 'free' market actually is.

So, when examining what we have and calling it a free market, the analysis ends up as distorted as the 'free' market is.... Arriving at conclusions about capitalism and free-market theories based upon the distorted 'capitalistic' system that exists in America inherently means your conclusions are inaccurate.

The recession was not a result of capitalism and free markets. It was a result of government trying to prevent the consequences of failure within the market after decades of regulating so many things that ended up causing the circumstances they tried - in the end - to avoid.

I don't believe that economies are a straight line...but rather a wave - ups and downs, booms and busts, growth and recession. When a few politicians (or Federal Reserve Chairmen) decide they can make better decisions than the collective wisdom of the 'market,' failure is always the eventual outcome. But those who refuse to acknowledge that fact always look for other 'causes' and blame the eventual failure on the system rather than the manipulation of it.

So...those are my thoughts... a bit rambling, but I appreciate the question and the opportunity to read the article.


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