Small Government For Whom?
The rally cry of the Tea Party was reducing the size and reach of the federal government. Lots of very rich people who own very large corporations were happy to bankroll their efforts. The Republicans quickly took up the cry, finding a populist momentum their party hadn’t seen since the Reagan years. Suddenly the federal government, which had been led by a GOP president for the previous eight years, was an evil, sprawling octopus, reaching its poisonous tentacles into the lives of innocent citizens and businesses.
The Department of Education, where those demon-teachers launch their preemptive strikes on young impressionable minds, the Department of Energy which is trying to deflate the value of those $4 Billion subsidies for Big Oil, and of course the EPA which is under the misguided impression that profit is less important than breathable air and drinkable water.
Conservatives Take Control
It doesn’t get more conservative than the late Senator Barry Goldwater, a staunch advocate of small government long before it was served with tea. Here’s what he had to say about intermingling of religion and politics:
I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?”
Evidently despite his commitment to separation of church and state, old Barry was a prophet. Because 2012 has become the year of the preacher and notable “moral” exemptions to small government. But this time, there doesn’t appear to be a conservative willing to fight them.
Small Government is Selective
There is much talk of a war on women. But I think this is a war on freedom. Freedom to make choices about my personal life, without any dictates from the government. This is about small government. And who it applies to.
We know that corporations are big fans of small government. They want to be left alone to drill, to frack, to speculate, to dispose of whatever chemicals where ever it is cheapest. They demand the right to make their own decisions without interference – they can self-govern, they insist, and so does the GOP. Now that they are people, they should have the right to operate in the same vein as individual citizens.
They should be careful what they wish for. How long will it take for the “moral-decision-makers” to impose small government on businesses? Maybe Google should be stopped from letting people search for abortion? Publishers not allowed to produce books that present opposing views to creationism? Higher tax rates for companies researching solutions to climate change?
You see, small government is not for people. Not for citizens with a uterus, or citizens who wish they had been born with one. Not for citizens who fall in love with a person of their own gender. Not for doctors who provide reproductive healthcare. Not for insurers who will pay for unnecessary medical procedures. Not for people who come here in search of a better life. Not for anyone outside the “Christian” right.
As for the poor, small government is to be forced upon them. They will be shamed and the President and party that cares about them will be mocked and vilified. There is much talk of getting the poor on their feet by taking away their financial support system. Little talk of what will happen to them without it, or how they will become self-supporting.
The sick and elderly too are to be freed from evil government influences and left to their own devices. Getting old or sick is a matter of personal accountability after all. Pay your own way America, because small government has no empathy for mitigating circumstances. If your town is destroyed by tornadoes or a hurricane hits, we will need to cut food stamps before we can help. We wouldn’t dream of threatening your safety by taking any of the trillions in the Pentagon’s budget.
One of the most ironic things about small government is its alleged “morality,” particularly given the “Christian” bent. But the holier-than-thou legislators and senators and governors themselves will be at best unaffected by “small government” and at worse profit from it. Christianity is easier to talk about than practice.
What they are good at is speaking to the fear of folks who are one paycheck away from needing help. You take a blue-collar family that is busting their ass to pay their bills and you explain to them the reason it’s so hard is because the government is making them carry people. People who don’t want to work, people who have babies to increase their welfare checks, people who sell their food stamps for drugs, black people, illegal immigrants, skanks and scumbags who would rather take your tax dollars than earn their own way.
Needing help is not allowed in America, especially if you don’t “deserve it.” Kind of funny, isn’t it? Because deciding to help people is not about their character. It’s about mine. And that is a moral issue.
It’s rare that I would want a conservative Republican to have the last word, but I will tip my hat to Mr. Goldwater.
“Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.”