Legendary conservative writer and commentator M. Stanton Evans died today at the age of 80. Evans was the founder of Young Americans For Freedom (YAF). In 1960 Stanton wrote The Sharon Statement, YAF’s statement of principles. It was adopted at a meeting of 90 young conservatives at the Sharon, Connecticut, home of National Review editor William F. Buckley, Jr. The purpose of the Sharon Statement was to present “a succinct summary of the central ideas of modern American conservatism.”
The Sharon Statement
Adopted in conference at Sharon, Connecticut, September 11, 1960
In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.
We, as young conservatives, believe:
That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;
That liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;
That the purpose of government is to protect those freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;
That when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power, which tends to diminish order and liberty;
That the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;
That the genius of the Constitution—the division of powers—is summed up in the clause that reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people, in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal government;
That the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;
That when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; that when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;
That we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies;
That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;
That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and
That American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?
For what it’s worth, which is not much, one might compare the Sharon Statement to Tom Hayden’s 1962 Port Huron Statement for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the only similarity between the two being they were both intended as a statement of principles for a political organization. The Sharon Statement is a call to honor and protect the founding principles of America, those being primarily political and economic freedom under a government dedicated to securing the blessings of those freedoms for all people. The Port Huron Statement is more or less a rant by young radicals against the state of the country they believe they have inherited from their parents.
Ironically, though, the Port Huron Statement is a good deal more conservative and respectful of individual liberty and free will than the current state of radical progressive liberalism under the regime of Barack Obama.