Conservative group offers ideas as guide

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —With polls and recent elections suggesting a possible comeback for Republicans, a group of prominent conservatives unveiled a statement of principles Wednesday called Constitutional Conservatism that they hope will guide a new era of governing.

"A year ago, some pundits claimed that conservatism was effectively dead. But today, as revelations about Washington's futility in addressing America's problems continue to mount, the movement is alive and poised for a resurgence of Constitutional Conservative leadership," former Attorney General Edwin Meese said.

Meese, who served under President Ronald Reagan, was one of several dozen conservatives who drafted and signed the statement.

Others noted that they were following in the footsteps of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. and others who signed a similar statement in 1960.

"Fifty years ago, the federal government threatened to grow exponentially," said Edwin Feulner Jr., the president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy research center. "Visionaries then gathered in Sharon, Conn., to articulate essential principles of American governance. Today, that threat is even greater, and so we must articulate anew the nature of Constitutional Conservatism in the 21st century."

The statement reaffirms their goal of a limited government coupled with a strong national defense.

"Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law," said the statement.

"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 federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant."

Just as conservatives oppose President Obama's expansion of the federal government, the call for a Constitutional Conservatism also was an alternative to Republican former President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism."

Many conservatives balked at the rapid rise in nondefense spending under Bush, and at the expansion of unchecked government power in the name of fighting terrorism.