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I’m a limited government conservative

Posted by Chance on March 12, 2009

When I was in elementary school, like every other U.S. citizen, I learned about the American Revolution.  A major issue with the Revolution was the colonists’ idea that there was something wrong with a strong, centralized government, in which a great deal of power rest in the hands of a few.  Thus, the Revolution, then the American experiment began, in which power belonged to the people, and governmental duties and powers were distributed among three branches of government.  Not only that, but the Bill of Rights were amended to the Constitution to protect us from government.

Over time, our government has grown from what it was at the birth of the constitution to a strong centralized government, where D.C. takes a bigger and bigger role in people’s lives, including our pocketbooks, our workplaces, our schools, you name it.

I think what is missing in most conservative circles is a commitment to limited government.  Republicans are, many times not the party of small government, but only slightly smaller government than the Democrats.  Bush and the Republican Congress did not reign in spending at all.  True, a lot of this money was spent fighting terrorism and the Iraq War, but much of it was spent on domestic programs as well.  I was not a fan of No Child Left Behind, not because I don’t like having educational standards, but because it is an instance of the federal government dictating policy where I believe local school districts should have the say.  Concerning our current President, don’t even get me started…  I think my audience is well aware of how he is doing.

I think many people believe that a lot of power is okay, provided the right person is in charge.  But the idea of limited government is that, even if the people in charge right now are perfect angels, someone who isn’t a perfect angel will soon be in charge.

Favoring limited government is not all about just wanting to keep more of your money, though there is nothing wrong with that.  But I believe tax rates and policy are symbolic of our government as a whole.  Government that allows more personal freedom and responsibility will not tax us heavily.  Government that wants to get involved in every area of our lives will tax us to fund our programs.  During Election ’08, John McCain said he stood for lower taxes, but he never really did a good job of explaining why, in my opinion.  I don’t want lower taxes only because I want to keep more of my money, but I believe high taxes are symptomatic of a huge bloated government.

Also, there is a Christian element to the idea of limited government.  Because people are evil, we of course, need a certain amount of government.  But because people are evil, we don’t want to give them more power than they need.

I have the same values that conservatives as a whole do.  I’m pro-life, pro 2nd amendment,  pro-free market, etc…  At the same time, I evaluate any Presidential action, act of Congress, or Supreme Court decision in light whether or not it contributes to the growth of our already massive government.

Hopefully, with the Election 2008, the conservative movement will regain their love of a smaller government.  And hopefully, after trillions of dollars are spent to solve all of our problems, the American people will as well.

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7 Responses to “I’m a limited government conservative”

  1. dolphin said

    The problem is that when conservatives say “limited government” they mean “a government that let’s me keep my money,” and nothing more. That’s why the argument has fallen on deaf ears among liberals and moderates and why the principle has all but been abandoned by the GOP itself. It’s more or less meaningless.

    A limited government doesn’t force its way into people’s bedrooms and relationships, their doctors’ offices, their private conversations, etc. Yet with rare exception “small government” conservatives want the government to do all those things and more. And that’s not a deviation from some small government ideal, that IS what’s referred to as the small government ideal. I generally feel like the only chocie we have is between a “huge bloated” government that tries (with varying levels of success) to help it’s citizens but let’s them live freely or a “small government” that does nothing to help it’s citizens but tries (again with varying levels of success) to control their daily lives.

    I’ve always felt between the two that the former was preferable by leaps and bounds.

    • Chance said

      Sorry, I forgot that comments are, by default, moderated.
      I agree in principle with what you say, that conservatives also tend to go for larger government, just in other areas, and that’s why I feel I had to quality “conservative” with limited gov’t.
      I would like to think I’m more “limited gov’t” than most conservatives – probably not to your liking, but I think with social issues I’m a little more moderate than some conservatives. I’m pro-life because I feel that protecting others is exactly what gov’t is supposed to do – I know you disagree with my reasoning there and I don’t want to go down that road – I just want to say I oppose abortion not for “moral reasons” in the sense that people “aren’t supposed to do that”, but I believe it is a measure of protection.
      As far as what people do in their bedrooms, although I discussed the gay marriage issue a little bit a few posts back.
      I do agree, in general, conservatives support more government control, although in different areas. I would like to think I’m a little bit more libertarian in some instances.

    • Chance said

      I’ve been thinking more about this, and I realized, I don’t feel like many Democrats or some modern liberals really let people live freely. I’ve brought up campus speech codes before, and it is many so-called “liberals” in New York that want to tell people exactly what to eat (re: trans-fat). Also, some liberals are more likely to force people to go against their conscious – suing the founder of eHarmony for not including gay dating on his website (what happened to freedom of relationships). They are for freedom of speech, sometimes (limiting advertisements, etc…) Moreover the current administration wants to choose to tax-exempt only certain charities that he sees fit.
      I actually do know that you tend to be more liberal in the truer sense of the word than others claiming the label. At the same time, I’m not that impressed with many modern day liberals idea of “freedom.” Now, you pointed out many conservatives have no interest in small government, and I can agree with that, that’s why there are many facets of libertarianism that appeal to me. Liberals never say they are about small government, but they do claim to be for personal freedom – yes, personal freedom for some, but not for others. Again, some liberals – maybe including yourself – really do believe in personal freedom, but in my view, the libertarians are better at being true liberals than liberals.

      • dolphin said

        I’d completely agree with you. For the most part all the things you mention are completely unacceptable to me. I despise the notion of trans-fat bans (though I support the notion of making more specific food labeling mandatory; my preference is to give people the facts and let them decide for themselves). And I think the suit against eHarmony was a travesty. Much better to simply expose them for the bigots they are and let people decide where they want to take their money (and frankly the fact that eHarmony openly acknowledged that 10% of society’s money is no good to them, shows horrid business sense, but it’s their right to make stupid business decisions). In fact, there was at least one of their competitors ran an ad campaign highlighting just how selective eHarmony is in who they allow to use their service. Of course it wasn’t the liberals but the conservative eHarmony who (unsuccessfully) sued in that case to have those ads pulled.

        I can’t really speak limiting advertising because most of the examples of limiting advertising I can think of are conservatives trying to pull ads, and in fact in general I think most attempts at “censorship” in the private sector come from conservatives (though, alot of times I don’t really think they should be “stopped” from doing so, because ultiamtely it is the private sector). And I’m not familiar with any plans by the Obama administration to pull tax-exempt status for legit charities (not saying they aren’t, just that I’ve no knowledge of it) so I can’t really comment on that without knowing the whole story.

        But the principal isn’t wrong just because some people who inaccurately attach a label to themselves don’t follow it. And as you note, liberals don’t claim to be about small government. We’re NOT about small government, but the facts indicate that neither are conservatives, not even conservatives who run on “small government” rhetoric. But when you say things like “Republicans are, many times not the party of small government, but only slightly smaller government than the Democrat,” it ignores the fact that Republicans are NOT for “slightly smaller government than the Democrats, and in fact if you track spending over the last 40 years, spending goes up at a faster rate, on average, under Republican administrations than it does under Democratic administrations. the truth is that neither party is a party of small government, but if we assume government spending is bad, the party that claims to be for small government is the worst offender.

  2. […] by Chance on March 17, 2009 I wanted to add something to my previous post about the idea of limited government.  As I mentioned earlier, the government that the colonists rebelled against was a centralized […]

  3. Chance said

    And I’m not familiar with any plans by the Obama administration to pull tax-exempt status for legit charities
    My mistake on that, sorry… in a blog post I read, it mentioned Obama’s plan to cut tax deductions on charitable giving for the wealthiest Americans (i.e. getting $280 back on every $1000 sent to charity as opposed to $350), and in the same post it also talked about National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy’s idea of grading a charity based on how much money is given to things like minority groups, etc… With that is the idea of tax exempt status being based on performance. So, it is this NCRP, not Obama, to my knowledge. Sorry for the misinformation. Article is here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123604548985015461.html

  4. […] as I mentioned in a previous post, or at least implied, is that tax rates are a symbol and an effect of government that encroaches […]

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