Government Is Us
"Government's the only thing we all belong to." If you're looking for a politically philosophical statement that's it. And, it's been controversial even within the Democratic Party whose host committee at the Democrat convention in Charlotte was responsible for the video in which the statement was made. Obama staffers reportedly declined responsibility even though that was the central theme of the convention.
Even if one concedes that all of us are, one way or another, a part of government - local, state or national - it's not exactly like a voluntary membership. Even putting government in the same category, as the video did, of your church or voluntary community organization, is an extreme position. A number of people pointed out the obvious: we own the government it doesn't own us.
No sense in belaboring that. The issue is about a philosophy that government is imbedded in our private lives, that it is the keeper of the truth and the way, that it holds the solution to the problems of the day, that it can more efficiently supplant private industry, that it can be a piggy bank for government investment in whatever is the flavor of the day, that government is your constant companion.
Obviously, there is a role for government, primarily military, law enforcement, education, taking care of the poor, and basic infrastructure. The questions have always been about how far those powers should extend. The Constitution was designed specifically to limit the power of government and protect individual freedoms. The Founders, students of history and the behavior of men, feared the power of government. Government, after all, has the power to confiscate your wealth, to detain you, to arrest you, to conscript you into its military.
Because men haven't changed, the challenge today is the same as it was over 200 years ago. The recent history of the communist experiment is really all the proof needed. The larger and more powerful the government, the smaller and more powerless the individual. Nearby Cuba is the government paradise to look at. When I visited several years ago I asked why buildings were falling down, why the plumbing and electricity didn't work in some of the apartments. Residents said they were waiting for the government workers to do the work. They had neither the tools, nor the incentive, nor the permission, to do the work. It hasn't gotten any better.
There are those who believe the Constitution is outdated, that government needs to be streamlined and freed from the fetters of the Constitution. Still others believe that more government spending in more areas is more important than controlling the debt, or, if concerned about the debt, that more taxation is the solution to reducing that debt. And, still others believe that both of these events should occur for the ultimate financial security of each citizen.
I contend that the past history of communism and the current history of socialism and the sometimes limited socialism of Europe illustrates that those paths aren't good long term solutions.