I recently joined former Attorney General Ed Meese and a number of leaders of conservative think tanks and other groups in signing the Mount Vernon Statement. When I watched the press coverage that evening, I saw the event through the media's prism: a bunch of white guys reaffirming what some dead white guys said. Never mind that all types of people were in the room. Never mind that thousands had signed the conservative declaration online, overnight. Never mind that the Mount Vernon Statement was a reaffirmation, not just of constitutional values, but also of a tendency in the very air of the country right now. It's a mood that has inspired tea parties and sold books like Mark Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny." There's a sense -- and not just among trusted Reagan Cabinet secretaries -- that we may be on the brink of losing something integral to America.
This sense was palpable at an annual gathering of conservatives the next day. The Conservative Political Action Conference had not been underway in Washington, D.C., for an hour when Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban refugees, took the stage and blew away the older-white-guy lie. Rubio, who is running for U.S. Senate in Florida, is challenging the current Republican governor of that state for the seat. Rubio gets across by talking with a sense of urgency about what America could be on the verge of forfeiting. His words could have been ripped from the Mount Vernon Statement, which in a very fundamental way simply reaffirmed constitutional principles.
The statement reads, in part: "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. ... 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."