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Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century
We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.
These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.
Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The self-evident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.
Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?
The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.
The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.
A Constitutional conservatism unites 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. A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.
We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
February 17, 2010
Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America
Edwin Feulner, Jr., president of the Heritage Foundation
Lee Edwards, Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, was present at the Sharon Statement signing.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
Becky Norton Dunlop, president of the Council for National Policy
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center
Alfred Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator
David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union
David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society
T. Kenneth Cribb, former domestic policy adviser to President Reagan
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
Kenneth Blackwell, Coalition for a Conservative Majority
Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Kathryn J. Lopez, National Review
Click Here to add your name to list of signers
President Obama is calling for a “health care summit” including the Republican Leadership in Congress. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has challenged the President to scrap the proposed House and Senate bills and start over. If there was some way to convince the President and Congress to face three unquestionable facts concerning health care we could save months of divisive wrangling in Washington, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and slow the steady erosion of our liberty.
1. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS NO
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY OVER HEALTH CARE!
2. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS NO
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO SPEND TAXPAYER
MONEY ON HEALTH CARE!
3. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS NO
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO LEGISLATE ON THE SUBJECT OF HEALTH CARE!
We challenge anyone in or out of government to refute these three facts.
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The above video — Thanks to CNS News TV — is just another colossal example of the constitutional illiteracy of too many of our elected representatives in Congress. This time it is Senator Conrad of South Dakota, but he is only one of dozens of Congressmen and Senators CNS has questioned on this point and only a small percentage of them evidence any knowledge at all of the document they are sworn to defend.
The Constitution places only one individual performance requirement on members of Congress. That is found in Article VI, “The Senators and Representatives …shall be bound by oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution [of the United States]”. Every member of Congress is obligated, after being elected or re-elected to serve in Congress to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution before taking office.
The actual oath members of Congress take is even more stringent than the Constitution requires. In it, they swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic“. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Constitution as to what to do when they discover, as Pogo Possum did, that “we have seen the enemy and he is us“.
Seriously, though, is it too much to ask of an employee we pay a base salary of $169,000 per year as of 2008, that they at least read and have a working understanding of their job description? Senator Conrad, as did Senator Landrieu of Louisiana and others plead ignorance and expresses a dependence on staff attorneys to insure they are acting within their Constitutional responsibilities.
Staff attorneys are not permitted to take the Oath of Office on behalf of their bosses and should not be allowed to assume the responsibility when their bosses violate that oath. The Constitution contains 4,494 words including Article and Section titles. The average person reads and comprehends with 60% efficiency, about 200 words per minute. That means the average reader can read and understand the main points of the Constitution is less than 25 minutes. There is no excuse for any government official, or citizen for that matter, not to take the time necessary to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the Supreme Law governing our government.
As citizens, it is our responsibility to require adherence to the Constitution on the part of our elected officials. Unless we ourselves are familiar with it, we are not going to know when it is violated. Every day that passes, we are one day closer to tyranny and all because not enough of us have taken the time to understand what government is all about. We are now to the point where we have to defend the Constitution or lose it, along with all the rights and liberty it protects.