For The Right, A Declaration Of Ideals This week, conservative leaders signed something called "The Mount Vernon Statement," a declaration of conservative ideals. Host Guy Raz talks to one of the signers, National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez.
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For The Right, A Declaration Of Ideals

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For The Right, A Declaration Of Ideals

For The Right, A Declaration Of Ideals

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GUY RAZ, host:

There have been several movements this week to commit to paper what exactly defines a conservative.

Newt Gingrich is working on a second "Contract with America." Tea Party activists are composing their own "Contract from America." House Minority Leader John Boehner started one too.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): Our manifesto, whatever it will be called, will come from the people who are really in charge of this country, and that's the American people.

RAZ: And that's not all. Another group of conservatives came together this week near George Washington's home in Virginia to sign a document called the "Mount Vernon Statement." It's an ode to constitutional conservatism, limited government, free enterprise and the defense of family and faith. And it's signed by people such as former attorney general Edwin Meese, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Kathryn Lopez, editor of the National Review Online. And Kathryn Lopez joins me here in the studio.


Ms. KATHRYN LOPEZ (Editor, Review Online): Thanks for having me.

RAZ: In a nutshell, what does this statement - the "Mount Vernon Statement" -say about what a conservative is?

Ms. LOPEZ: A conservative is somebody who respects the Constitution. He wants to support policies that advance freedom. A conservative is someone who believes that we dont need to reinvent the wheel and that the founding fathers knew what they were talking about. They established a republic based on moral principles, and these are things that we dont want to get away from.

RAZ: I guess what's not clear to me is what specifically does this document say a conservative is? And if a conservative is simply those things youre saying they are, I dont think I've ever met anybody who's not a conservative.

Ms. LOPEZ: There's a real sense among people in this country and not just conservatives, I think, which is part of the opportunity I think that conservatives have right now. But there are people in Washington right now, in the White House and in the majority in Congress who actually dont respect those principles, who actually dont...

RAZ: Who dont respect the separation of powers or?

Ms. LOPEZ: Dont respect the separation of power, dont respect federalism...

RAZ: Moral principles, they dont respect them?

Ms. LOPEZ: There are segments of our society and culture that seems to want to divorce morality from politics and believe in the radical separation of church and state that isn't - which isn't in line with our tradition.

Theoretically, we all like the Constitution, but there has been a trend in recent years where people are redefining it and people in government are redefining it by their own practices, and so that's part of what this is.

RAZ: So the signatories to this statement and the people that you hope running for office that will follow this statement will, for example, not be in favor of such a strict separation of church and state, for example.

Ms. LOPEZ: I think that's true. The point of it was give conservatives on record I think in part to send a signal to these Tea Party in part to say, hey, if youre wondering what we're about, this is what we're about. In part to send a message to people who are running for office and in office saying, hey, if you want our support and if you want to call yourself a conservative, we're going to keep you to these standards at least. And the other thing is I think it was a way to show a little bit of unity.

RAZ: That's Kathryn Lopez. She's the online editor for the National Review.

Kathryn Lopez, thanks for coming in.

Ms. LOPEZ: Thanks so much for having me.

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