Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A new conservative credo

Today saw the release of The Mount Vernon Statement, a relatively small collection of ideas and beliefs that have been embraced by a wide variety of conservative leaders. I think it's something that most Tea Party followers would be comfortable with. Perhaps most importantly to me—being a libertarian who reluctantly votes Republican—the statement is essentially devoid of any references to social issues, concentrating instead on the need for smaller government and individual liberty. It's a little vague for my tastes, but it's a nice way to begin to focus a much-needed debate. Highlights:

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.

[The Declaration] 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.

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.

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. 

HT: Glenn Reynolds


Jay Norman Davis said...

Concerning free entreprise and life and liberty just the opposite has been thrown at the citizens of Chicago. Walmart has been prevented from opening in Chicago by the politicians in the city council. They want to open 5 mega stores in underserved and unserved areas with very high unemployment creating thousands of jobs and giving access to shopping for lower cost goods, the people desperately want these stores but the city council will have nothing of it, So much for the will of the people.Jay

Scott Grannis said...

People really need to understand that every time the government exercises some of its power to regulate or to control or to limit, whether it be a business or a person, government is infringing on individual liberty.

W.E. Heasley said...

Mr. Grannis:

Interesting article.

Sometimes when we talk about the allocation of scarce resources to competing ends. Or talk about seeking the simplest and cheapest solution to a problem. We do not discuss a particular point that many people do not realize: that Capitalism is the only social system based on individual rights.

This very important point gets missed more times than not. In other words, we need to, from time to time, mention that Capitalism matches Liberty better than any other social system. If you like Liberty then you should very much enjoy Capitalism as they are a match.

Benjamin Cole said...

I wonder if you are really a libertarain.

1) The City of Newport Beach prevent s developers from building shoreline high-rise condo towers. Should they?

2) The El Toro Marine base in OC--should it have been made into an international airport?

3) If someone started building a casino-brothel-drug den in Calafia Beach, what would be your reaction?

4) Should street or sidewalk vendors be legal?

The reality: Conservatives are not libertarians, and often do not believe in free enterprise.

Scott Grannis said...

Benjamin: Libertarians are not anarchists or anti-government. I see no reason why a city cannot have zoning laws, or prohibit/restrict sidewalk vendors in certain areas. But that doesn't mean a city can come in and take someone's property or otherwise restrict property owners after the fact without just compensation.

Benjamin Cole said...


Well, I think you have proscribed is what we have, and that is excessive regulation.

The problem is, sometimes the regulators-subsidizers are the righties, and sometimes the lefties.

I love your blog and insights, but if you are a "libertarian," then woe for the right-wing.

The City of Newport Beach has a law that developers must get city voter approval, in a public vote, before commencing construction--on their own land. I believe that law applies to all developments of more than 30,000 sf, but It could be a bit higher, and there may be other stipulations.

It would make a Santa Monican blush, a law like that.

I wonder if the Red Ink Republicans, also known as Red State Socialists, can ever even propose a balanced federal budget again.

This is my biggest concern: The Republican Party simply lacks the fortitude to balance the budget or decrease regulation. In fact, many subsidy-regulations, such as ethanol, are wildly expanded under Republican stewardship.

Back to Newport Beach--

I do not think developers exercising their property rights to build condo towers to meet market demand on the shores of California is "anarchy."

I think it is free enterprise, and would deepen the tax base too.

But therein lies the problem: Everyone loves free enterprise--until the condo tower goes up next to their charming beach cottage. And even the most rock-ribbed Republican becomes a greenie-weenie when an airport is slated for the neighborhood.

But blame Obama!

Scott Grannis said...

Benjamin: I'm a Cato Libertarian for the most part. I believe in limited government as prescribed by the Constitution, and in the primacy of individual liberty and free markets. I think our government has gotten way too big and intrusive, and needs to be cut back drastically.

I don't believe in governments creating new restrictions on the rights of property holders without due compensation. If it was OK to build a high rise when I bought the property, then government shouldn't take away that right without compensation me for the loss.

If I were asked to vote on El Toro, I would have preferred to see an international airport there. But I know nothing about whether that would make economic sense.

I share your disdain for Republican's failure to cut spending. I hold out hope, however, that this will change for the better, thanks in large part to the success of the Tea Party movement. I think the electorate is finally and truly fed up with all the spending.