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What’s missing among conservatives

Posted by Chance on March 6, 2008

The other day at church someone mentioned how they liked Bush overall, but did not like his spending policy and how government has grown in size since he has taken office. He mentioned how he thought the Republican party had gotten away from small government principles.

This talk was refreshing to hear, as I don’t think the scope of government gets enough attention. I think by definition, liberals are more embracive of large government, but conservatives are not supposed to be.

It is difficult to tell if people are inherently small government people or large government people. We all talk about the evils of large bureaucracy, we all hate going to the DMV, we spend time and/or money on paying our taxes, and almost any job is associated with red tape in some aspect. Yet, at the same time, the general populace seems to embrace any law that seems to make their life better on the surface, without considering the ramifications or if government should be involved in that aspect of life in the first place.

Consider smoking bans. I think reasonable people can fall on both sides of the issue. However, people tend to think “I don’t smoke, I hate smelling smoke in a restaurant” and therefore, support a statewide smoking ban. Now, I’m not saying people who do so are ignorant or just not smart, I just think that one should consider any possible negative effects, and if regulating that sort of thing on private property is something government should be doing. My main point is not that people should agree with me, I’m just saying that when it comes to any law, one should consider if it should fall within the scope of government.

But I don’t want to lose people with the smoking example. What I want to focus on is just an overall perspective concerning government. If gas prices are too high, we want government to step in and fix it. If the housing market takes a downturn, we want the President to act right away. If our local team owner wants a new stadium, we run to the polls to give millionaires our tax dollars. For those who have no problems with stem-cell research, it’s not enough that our state dollars fund it, it is only humane that the federal government do it’s part too. We also want the federal government involved in our schools; there was a time when conservatives believed the feds should not be involved.

My tone may sound somewhat mean or sarcastic, I don’t intend it to. I just think we need to challenge our assumptions of what we expect government to do. A law may sound nice, but we need to keep count of just how many laws are being passed.

Conservatives tend to support their president and candidates based on their stance on certain moral issues, or whatever issues get the press for the day. Those things are important – my deepest political belief is my pro-life position. But I think we should also consider the person’s views concerning the overall role of government. At the very least, it can be a nice tiebreaker.

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4 Responses to “What’s missing among conservatives”

  1. Dan Trabue said

    He mentioned how he thought the Republican party had gotten away from small government principles.

    Have you ever seen a chart of gov’t spending and the nat’l debt under Reagan, Bush AND Bush? Check one out here.

    On this chart, the debt grows at a slow, regular pace, then you hit the 1980s and BOOM! Up, it goes.

    Then it levels off again somewhat in the 1990s and then Bush II hits office and BOOM! Skyrockets in flight!

    Records show that our last three “conservative” Republican administration have been quite the spendthrifts (along with their Congresses, of course).

    What I want is SMART gov’t that oftentimes will be smaller, but it rather depends upon the program. I’d be in favor of funding those programs that demonstrate that they will SAVE taxpayer dollars in the longrun.

    Prison rehabilitation programs, for instance, have shown in study after study to result in LESS gov’t spending because rehabilitated inmates tend to not return to jail as often, demonstrably saving taxpayer dollars.

    Programs that show that they result in net savings are an example of how to have smart gov’t that still tends to be responsibly small, and results in more savings. That’s what I advocate.

  2. Chance said

    Reagan did spend a lot of money, and the budget, etc… is an important part of being small government, and I don’t mean to downplay that, but I still like Reagan in his view of the overall role of government, in that it often stands in people’s way. I don’t feel like Bush II (I don’t know about the first) has that guiding philosophy. Concerning the role of government in daily life, I feel like Bush has a more open-ended view as opposed to Reagan’s.

    I ask this out of curiosity, have liberals shown much stronger support for government rehabilitation than conservatives?

  3. Chance said

    Also, I’m not trying to be petty, but they don’t show the national debt pre-1940s. Why the cutoff?

  4. Dan Trabue said

    Good question. Don’t know the answer.

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