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…?”


View all comments


shorty feldbush said:

This essay 'The First Statement of Conservative Principles" provides a clear message for the focus on the important principles. The missing link, as I have stated to other entities who share the concerns of the "Patriot Post" is this: Where is the polarizing point for like minded people to rally around and produce electable candidates that share our mission statement? We seem to nix the GOP for many faults they deserve over recent years. The Tea Party has no organization. The Libertarians want to remain uncompromising to their agenda and the many issues that prevent them from being a potent force on the national scene. So where do we go??

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 1:51 PM

LaMar Millett said:

Maybe you could add to your prayer list at the end of each Patriot Post: those Patriots in the CIA, Intelligence gathering services, undercover operations, etc., (who we will probably never hear about), who have or may lose their lives in defending our freedoms. God knows them... let's pray for them, as well.Thank you, and may God continue to bless you for your endeavors.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Richard Eggers said:

Though I have only been a 'Patriot Post' subscriber for a few years, I have used its' general commentary and thorough understanding of the Constitution in discussion with many of my liberal family and friends. The "Post" has kept me centered on the time- honored principals of God and Country first, and has allowed me to refute the 'change mentality' so prevelant in politial thought from the Left. Keep on 'truckin', Mark!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Jim Carter said:

To Fritz: Get over it! If you have a wife or children and one of them were, say, kidnapped, you wouldn't hesitate for a second to use force to find out where they were! Now put yourself in Mr. Cheney's boots and he does this for a Nation, not just one family. That takes guts that you and your kind find revolting.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:02 PM

J. Adams Clymer said:

Mr. Detwiler,You are obviously a new reader -- welcome -- but the Patriot Post has always fought for the Rule of Law, even during the Bush Administration. Where spending and regulation were not enumerated within the Constitution, the Patriot Post was one of the lone voices to call out such departures.As to prosecuting previous unconstitutional acts, we must now necessarily be more concerned about restoring constitutional Rule of Law in the current halls of government. It is only after we succeed with this monumental endeavor, securing Liberty for our posterity, that we may begin to correct the foibles of the past.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:04 PM

MajorStu in Peru, IN said:

Bravo, Mark Alexander, and Amen, Brother Rifleman. I have resisted joining a political party for lo, these many years and remained Independent. I was on the brink of joining the Indiana GOP this year for the express purpose of working for the defeat of Sen. Evan Bayh until last week as he saved me the time and effort. He is not a moderate, but he plays one on TV. I had a chance to hear a few minutes of the "healthcare summit", but I doubt that anyone in that room has stated their opposition to Government-run healthcare on the basis of lack of Constitutional authority viz. enumerated powers. When people ask me my political view, I state that I am a neo-Federalist, much to the consternation of most. Admittedly, it is a small party of one (as far as I know), but we have the advantage of a brilliant pedigree. I, too, hope and pray that the Tea Party movement is not co-opted by the GOP. However, I have not seen much mention of how I envision the Tea Party involvement - to provide candidates to BOTH political parties that honor and revere the Constitution of the United States with the express purpose of restoring a Constitutional Republic from the morass that we presently experience. I argue that Tea Party candidates need to present themselves in the Democratic primaries as an alternative to the statist/leftist/Marxist candidates that have asserted control over that party. The goal should be to move BOTH parties away from the extremes, and back to the Founding Documents, the Founders' Principles, and "the restoration of constitutional integrity and the Rule of Law." as Mr. Alexander so eloquently stated. "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. --PJ O'Rourke" The Senate/Obama HC reform plan proposes government panels to control health insurance premiums through a favorite tool of the statist, price controls. Price controls, in the words of George Will, have "a record, running from Roman times to the present, that is unblemished by success." No doubt, the GOP will put up a counter-argument that they are opposed to price controls in principle, but might go along with the Democrats in "the spirit of bipartisanship" if the regulation is not overly onerous. And people still ask me why I'm not a Republican.... I can only hope and pray that there are enough people who are fed up with the hypocrisy, the greed, and the pure selfish ambition that animates both parties and put patriotism, honor, integrity, and respect for the Constitution first to vote for the First Principles candidates in this election cycle, in the primaries and the general election. If we start to see First Principles candidates in the Democratic Primaries, then I know we will be on the ascendancy. Thank you, PatriotPost, for what you have done and continue to do to advance those First Principles.**********Marcy Dupre, how many of your students and even PatriotPost readers are aware that the Bill of Rights has a preamble. Here is the 2nd paragraph of the 4: THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution. Full document linked at precedent is again restating that the Republic was formed by the consent of the Several States, and that the Federal Government is constrained, rather than empowered, by the Constitution.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:13 PM

LaGrange, GA said:

Mark, is this an inference that you're willing to carry this torch? I would second that motion, since you're in Chattanooga and not Washington.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:28 PM

John said:

Jeremiah Wright was right; America’s chickens have come home to roost. Sometimes the truth is offensive, but if it is indeed the truth, we should be able to face it with courage. In my opinion, Wright was right, in the sense that we are getting what we so richly deserve. How long has it been since American voters, the thinking ones, have felt represented in their government? I think it’s possible that the recently elected Scott Brown proves up the words of Mr. Wright, but I would love to be wrong about that. Two years ago, when the coronation took place, to say openly that ‘we the people’ were not represented in Washington D.C. sounded like a mild rant from the lunatic fringe, but now I hear it broadcasted frequently on radio and television. So, is that the truth or have we all become lunatics in the last two years? We all know there is usually a gap between how something should work and how it actually does work, but even a quick peak at the Constitution is enough to expose the growing gap, no – chasm, that divides the Constitutional principles we thought were in place from the idiocy we see in our government (employees), on all levels. In practice, politics must be fairly easy – make any kind of promises before the election, then join the ruling elite for the rest of your life. The only sacrifices I can see are little ones, like personal integrity, basic decency and truthfulness. Of course, it helps to not place too much emphasis on meaningful relationships and personal responsibility towards God and man. You know, that’s pretty philosophical stuff, and eating pie today is better than pie in the sky tomorrow…..isn’t it? In my opinion we are indeed experiencing what we deserve. In theory, our government serves us, and is given authority to do so – again, by us. So why is it that that concept hasn’t been in play for decades? Whose fault is that? It is easy to blame politicians for not living up to a higher standard, but if they are given their authority by us, shouldn’t ‘we the people’ be held accountable? The real problem is us. We have been chronically slovenly and lazy in demanding our government govern according to our Constitution, and it has been that way for generations. Isn’t it true that we would rather trust our future to the “experts” than take the reins, and the responsibility, for ourselves? How is it that we can pass legislation about school lunches yet cannot manage to pass legislation for term limits? That item alone has destroyed one of our two Achilles tendons, and the resultant limp has pretty well destroyed the other. And now those “radicals” in the tea parties are up in arms about the deficiencies – like they just happened last week! It would do no good to ‘throw the bums out’ because that would only usher in another bunch of them. The real fix would entail throwing them all out and replacing them inside a system that would preclude “career politicians.” When are we going to demand, not request, that we be represented? Failure to do so only prolongs the inevitable. It’s OK to delegate authority – we can't all go to Washington, but not at the expense of abdication. If the system itself doesn’t change fundamentally, we will continue to get the same lousy, incompetent, results from our government. After all, the government is composed of humans just like you and me, and if they are not legislatively held to the higher standards we require, they will continue to rule at our request. And we will continue to get what we deserve. We will become….America’s chickens.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Tom Cook said:

There is not the slightest bit of religiosity, no superstition, supernaturalism, mysticism or other contamination of my oath to support the Constitution. I am an Oath Keeper. I have no problem with my fellow oath keepers of one kind or another who are superstitious. They are my great good friends, and they understand the rigor of my moral center and respect it. It should always be acknowledged that religion is certainly no proof of morality, and often quite the contrary is to be found. I would point to the large number of religious fiends in your particular local area who are the most despicable of hypocrites and basest of human beings who are admired for their christianism.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Leonard M Grummell said:

Sir....Suggest that you support the "Oath Keepers" as one of the true defenders of the Constitution,as we have truely taken an oath..."to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies,foreign and domestic." The organization,less than a year old,is for those who have actually taken this oath...military,police,law enforcement,firefighters and such. Civilians can also become associate members. I took this oath (7) times and being retired does not absolve me of implementing the means to keep it. Stay safe...Len Grummell, USAF(ret),former police officer,Oath Keepers #2432

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Lucille Gardner said:

There is a movement out there called GOOOH (get out of our house) with the intent of replacing all the members of the House of Representatives. It seems an impossible task but maybe with some help from the Patriot Post it could happen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2:58 PM

WTD in AZ said:

Great, John. Like Pogo said, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:03 PM

The Old Officer in Knoxville, TN said:

Please share these videos with your readers if you feel it is appropriate.I enjoy the Patriot Post. It is a voice of reason in a country filled with deceptive commentary by the party in power.Thanks.C E PembertonRonald Reagan on Socialism message to Obama answers to Obama cutting our forces answers Sam Donaldson

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:04 PM

James D. Harris said:

I noted in the Washington Examiner that in Nevada, the Tea Party may offer a candidate to run against Harry Reid for the Senate. Also the registered chairman of the "Tea Party" is a registered Democrat. This needs to be watched and publicized to prevent the Democratic Party of Nevada from coopting the Tea Party name and running a stalking horse candidate to throw the election for Reid.Thanks JDH

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Phil Martinez said:

Mark: Thanks for the clarity in your words and the challenge to be "first principles" people. The idea of reaffirming the oath is something I commonly do when attending a commissioning ceremony or the like. I also accomplish the reaffirming concept when attending a wedding. Our advocacy for individual liberty and the restoration of constitutional integrity can only be successful as the citizenry moves away from the pleasures of the world and seeks the more true satisfaction of pleasing Our Father. The reaffirming concept stirs the initial pangs of fear and joy of the responsibility and the benefits of being a child of God!Thanks again, and keep up the fight!

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:29 PM