Alexander's Column

The First Statement of Conservative Principles

By Mark Alexander · Feb. 25, 2010
“The Constitution, which at any time exists ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.” –George Washington
The Resurrection of First Principles

The election of a “community organizer” and ideological Socialist, Barack Hussein Obama, came with some unintended consequence for Obama and his Leftist cadres. Chief among those is the resurgence of grassroots conservative concern for the Rule of Law and a battle to restore the First Principles upon which our nation was founded.

And not a moment too soon.

In the two years since Obama’s election, the ranks of politically active Patriots have swelled through conservative recruiting channels such as the Tea Party movement, whose growth has been entirely grassroots, despite the best (or worst?) efforts of Beltway Republican establishment types to co-opt and brand the movement. Fortunately, Patriots have shown remarkable resilience against those golden-tongued powers of persuasion.

I, for one, welcome every American to the front lines in defense of our Constitution, but I also know that there will be many efforts to assign these Patriots into one political camp or the other.

One of the strengths of the Tea Party movement, its lack of central organization, can also be one of its greatest weaknesses. If the movement fails to unite ideologically behind the restoration of constitutional integrity and the Rule of Law, it risks devolving into a plethora of special interest constituencies which will be easily defeated or have no more power than the para-political organizations that vie for their sentiments.

As Benjamin Franklin said famously when signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

And we derive great strength and unity in forming this front to defend our Constitution as the primary objective of the growing Patriot movement. I know from our nation’s history, and from personal experience, that the only guiding authority that Patriots need is the plain language of the Constitution itself.

Back in 1996, a small group of Patriots deeply devoted to our Constitution, which we had pledged “to support and defend,” endeavored to challenge the Leftmedia’s stranglehold on public opinion, particularly as it pertained to the role of government and promotion of Leftist policies.

To provide sustenance for those endeavoring to restore our Constitution’s rightful standing as the Supreme Rule of Law of the United States, we established The Federalist, an online grassroots journal providing constitutionally conservative analysis of news, policy and opinion, with the express mission of “advocating Essential Liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values.”

Our objective was, and remains, “to provide Patriots across our nation with a touchstone of First Principles.”

Demand for The Federalist grew rapidly, to put it mildly. A few years later, we adopted the name The Patriot Post in keeping with the growing constituency we serve.

Now, I certainly do not suggest that we were the only folks back in '96 advocating for the restoration of constitutional Rule of Law. We took our inspiration from, and owe our success to, President Ronald Reagan and his Patriot team, many of whom were our earliest promoters and supporters. They sparked the flame to revitalize our Constitution’s legal standing some two decades earlier, at the juncture of our nation’s bicentennial.

We also owe a great debt to conservative protagonists such as National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., and the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin J. Feulner, both of whom provided meaningful guidance and assistance to get us under way.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I failed also to credit Albert Arnold Gore, who “took the initiative in creating the Internet” for us, and then galvanized those of us interested in national sovereignty in opposition to his utopian scheme to socialize the world economy, ostensibly to thwart “global warming.”

I believe the most important factor in our success has been our steadfast commitment to the Rule of Law, the supremacy of our national Constitution in all matters pertaining to the role and authority of our central government, and our analysis of the same.

We have endeavored to keep our eye on the prize, and we’ve thus avoided being co-opted by any political party or organization.

That will be the challenge for the independent Tea Party Patriots and other conservative movements – to keep their eyes firmly affixed on the task of restoring our Constitution and its prescription for Rule of Law, and to avoid the risk of being swallowed up by large, centralized poli-wonks.

Last week, my friend Ed Feulner, and many other colleagues, released “The Mount Vernon Statement,” a document similar in substance to the “Sharon Statement” released in 1960 by a group of conservative intellectuals including Bill Buckley, M. Stanton Evans and Annette Kirk (widow of influential American conservative Russell Kirk).

Feulner and his staff at the Heritage Foundation have been uniformly resolute in their support for constitutional Rule of Law.

Ten years ago, I met with key staff members of the Heritage Foundation and encouraged them to adopt the practice of posting, in the introductory abstract of their papers, the specific constitutional authority for every policy position they advocate. Two years ago, Heritage launched their massive First Principles initiative, with the objective of asserting constitutional authority as the centerpiece of their mission.

While I applaud the entire Heritage team for their First Principles endeavor, I note that some of the principal signatories of the Mount Vernon Statement, though “conservative” by label, do not meet The Patriot standard of reliance upon the plain language of our Constitution, nor are many of those signatories representative of the “grassroots” movement they seek to unify around this statement.

With that in mind, I reiterate that any real movement to restore the integrity of our Constitution must be bottom-up, not top-down. Patriots need only subscribe to one mission statement, the first statement of conservative principles, our Constitution.

The GOP establishment squandered its opportunity to reassert First Principles when it held majorities under George W. Bush, and the party will have to demonstrate an authentic commitment to those principles if it is to gain the trust of a single American Patriot.

Real constitutional reform will come about only when Patriots across the nation demand the restoration of Essential Liberty as “endowed by their Creator,” and they widely articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men.

If you have taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution, I invite you to revisit that venerable document and ask you to reaffirm your oath.

If you have not affirmed that commitment, I invite you to gain a full understanding of our Constitution and then take your oath – and abide by it to your last breath, just as our Founding Fathers mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

In the words of George Washington, “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths…?”

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64 Comments

BA said:

"While I applaud the entire Heritage team for their First Principles endeavor, I note that some of the principal signatories of the Mount Vernon Statement, though "conservative" by label, do not meet The Patriot standard of reliance upon the plain language of our Constitution, nor are many of those signatories representative of the "grassroots" movement they seek to unify around this statement."Bravo! I fear many signatories of the Mount Vernon statement still "do not get it".

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 11:47 AM

B. Lee Pemberton said:

As I do each time I read any Patriot Post publication, I applaud each and every person responsible for its publication! In my office, Patriot Post is mandatory reading!

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Nellie Rine said:

I love the little booklet you sent to me with our precious documents and their histories. I wish I had the money to provide one to every school child in America. Thank you!

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Mike Rasberry said:

The document states, "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." In the 18th Century this was a clearly understood statement, which met with little equivocation, even by unbelievers. In this contemporary, pluralistic society such terms need defining.While I agree with the intent of those who formulated the statement, it appears to not be so notable a statement as to create even angst amongst those who are the enemies of traditional constitutional government. Not one of these signers need fear the loss of position, property, or prestige over the signing of such an innocuous statement.I wrote a brief blog about this last week at http://mrponderings.blogspot.com/2010/02/mount-vernon-statement.html

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Earl said:

A lot of debate in Washington going on right now concerning Health Care. Cost is the big factor. Why has none suggested discontinuing coverage for the illegal. I would think that that would be a huge cost saving.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Mark Avery said:

As you are doubtless aware, there is another group which has started collecting names of people who have already taken and reaffirmed their oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and (especially now) domestic. This group is the OathKeepers, http://www.oathkeepers.org - they are specifically focused on ensuring that unconstitutional orders not be followed that would take from citizens rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I suspect this group would be anxious to support the Essential Liberty project as well.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Rifleman said:

Read the Preamble. Read the two Founding Documents. There has never been and never will be a clearer statement of Conservative Principles because those are PRINCIPIUM IMPRIMIS "...[T]hat is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." -- John KeatsLet's stop parsing health "care" proposals, back and forth. The Constitution DOES NOT ALLOW the federal government to be involved -- even a little -- in health "care" or retirement or education or mortgages or agriculture subsidies or student loans or "the environment" or any of the thousands of "duties" which they've assumed since FDR. Read Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution: the SEVENTEEN ENUMERATED DUTIES of the federal government. If it's not there, the duty falls to the States, further defined and confirmed by Amendments 10 and 14. If the federal government goes beyond, outside, around, over, those seventeen DUTIES, what they're doing is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Could that be "high crimes and misdemeanors"?

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Judy L said:

I love your material! I work for a state legislative body and every day send the quotes and Founder's Quote Dailey to all the members. Thank you for doing this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:39 PM

TROUTLAKETOM said:

Editor,If the message here written between the lines is that the Tea Party should link up with the Republican GOP, then count me out. I am about to switch from being a registered Republican to that of an Independent. The GOP keeps throwing rocks at the Obama liberals, as they should, but they need to clean their own house as well. We need lap dog Republican incumbents who are to comfortable with going along to get re-elected out of office as well.The Tea Party movement has polarized the people on issues that are important to the nation, not just for special interests and political IOUs. The GOP should embrace the issues on what is important to the people, not the other way around. Either the GOP will recognize this, or they will be sadly disappointed come the Nov 2010 elections. The had better start coming up with some solid positions on critical issues or plan to kiss the Nov opportunity of the decade good by.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:41 PM

The Editor replied:

Mr. Alexander's message was precisely that no such link between the Tea Party and the GOP should be formalized.

Ruth Ann Wilson said:

Thank-you, Mr. Rifleman. AMEN, AMEN, AMENREVERSE AND REPEAL, They can fix it. All the years of transgressions - REVERSE & REPEALI do want to thank the Post for this booklet, "Essential Liberty".No doubt, you all took this title from Benjamin Franklin's profound quote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."It is the first quote in the booklet. Thanks so much.For God & CountryRuth Ann Wilson

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Marcy Dupre said:

AMEN, Rifleman! One of my extreme privileges toward the end of my military career was the education of junior officers in a course called "Combines Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3), called 'CAS-cubed.'" One of my sub-classes was an all-together too brief study and discussion of the Constitution. Since every officer--male and female--in the course had taken the oath to "support and defend" that document, I felt we might wish to explore some of the duties inherent in that oath.I was astonished at how many had NOT even read our defining document, nor had any idea how truly beautiful it is. Each officer received a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to study. Half the class received a copy of the Federalist Papers, and the other half got a copy of the Anti-Federalist Papers, and lively discussion ensued.This course was not mandated, but I included it because I wanted to impress upon them the severity of what they had sworn to give their lives for, if necessary.What our Representatives and Senators have lost sight of is the provision in Article VI, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in the Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."That's pretty plain to me. If it ain't in the Constitution, it's just a matter of opinion, not an entitlement. In the more than 200 years of "The Grand Experiment," there have been more than 10,000 proposals to amend that document. So far, only 27 have been made.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Linda Henry said:

I am taking a break from the "Healthcare Summit". One thing that bothers me, is those of us who have to take medication that is non-generic. Next year I will have to go on Medicare and we are talking about another entitlement now. The medications I have to take are to help me breathe. I have COPD. I paid the hospital bill myself (the part my insurance would not pay). I negotiated with the hospital, doctor, everyone but the labs. Why doesn't Professor Obama answer Sen. Alexander's question on starting over? He is very rude and uninformed and I am getting very tired of hearing peopld say what a good orator/speaker he is. Linda

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Bruce Felder said:

Mark, you and your team are modern day Paul Revere's and Patrick Henry's!So through the night researching, they persevered;And in the morn went their cry of alarmTo every Middlesex village, farm, (and beyond---)A cry of defiance, and not of fear,A voice on the web like a knock at the door,And a word that shall echo for evermore!For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,Through all our history, to the last,In the hour of darkness and peril and need,The people will awaken and read freedom's boastwith clarity the direction for liberty to heed,And the powerful message of the Patriot Post. (apologies to Longfellow: http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.htmlsee also:http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/henry.htmAs Khrushchev predicted: Our enemy is not only within, but is now in leadership and will replace what's left of our freedom with servitude unless Truth, Light and vigilance persevere. Thanks for being that beacon of Truth and valiant defender of freedom and faith!A footsoldier for liberty,Bruce Felder

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 12:59 PM

DerAlte said:

It doesn't hurt to reread the Preamble from time to time either. ex: "Form a more perfect union", "Establish Justice", "Ensure domestic tranquility, "Provide for the common defense", "Promote the general welfare" "Insure the blessings of liberty to ourselves AND our posterity." That's pretty close & right off the top of my head!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Fritz Detwiler said:

Where were your affirmations of the Rule of Law and not men during the Bush administration and why are you not now strongly advocating the prosecution of those in the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, who broke constitutional law during their tenure? Those of us who push for the Rule of Law are embarrassed by those who claim to support the Rule of Law yet are partisan in their calls for the imposition of the Rule of Law.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM