Government was small when our country was founded. In fact, it was between small and non-existent for most American citizens.
Contrast that with our government today, where for some Americans government is never big enough. It always needs to get bigger year by year.
Much of the reach of our government today — that Americans take for granted — would be as foreign to our founding leaders as going to the moon and returning safely. If our founding leaders were not already dead, a look today at our bloated government would kill them.
In essence, bigger government was the central fight when our current Constitution was constructed. Some delegates to the Constitutional Convention wanted as little government as possible. However, the Articles of Confederation, which were what they were trying to amend, were clearly not enough federal government. Our founding leaders knew this.
Some delegates saw things only a larger government could do. Of those, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington especially saw the need for a stronger federal government for the defense of our country. There was the need for balance in our government and the new Constitution called for a balance of power, which was designed to hold the power of government down.
So our country was founded with a small federal government, which inspired small state governments. But an interesting thing happened over the years: Our federal and state governments got bigger. New tasks were given to government, and government reached further into the lives of Americans.
Every year of our nation’s existence, our government was said by some citizens to not be doing enough and was said by other citizens to be getting too big. Citizens argued year by year that we must rein in big government or government must do even more.
At some point, it became part of the national dialog to vote money out of the pockets of other citizens and into our own pockets. The way to do that was with big government providing the muscle for such theft.
Another issue was that nearly every American, regardless of their thoughts about big government, would have that one new law they wanted. Therefore, the opponents of “Big Government” seem to have at least one law they insist is needed, so year by year government gets bigger and bigger.
The increase of government power in our country in the last 50 years has overwhelmed personal liberty. The adults of my childhood would not recognize the America of today.
When England took too many liberties away from its citizens, some left England. When people all over the world reached a point of dismay, they came to our country. Albert Einstein immigrated to our country to leave a repressive government.
Then, America was drawn into World War II to end the repressive governments of Germany, Italy and Japan. Our country was the reason for victory. For generations, people have come to America to escape repression.
However, in the last 20 years, the tide has turned and personal liberty is on the run in our country. Political correctness and political corruption have caused our federal, state and local governments to increase the repression of citizens.
More and more citizens have lost all notion of private property. We are spied upon and used as giving units. Every year, more laws are put upon us, one of the latest requiring us to buy health insurance, not to favor us but to make government bigger. A hoax of global warming is perpetuated to make government bigger. A flood of people is coming across our borders. No nation can survive unfettered immigration.
And still people want government to do more, even though America is no longer a rich nation. Millions of American citizens expect other Americans to care for them. No one wanting smaller government can ever be elected because voters vote for politicians who promise to take care of them with other people’s money.
It would seem people who desire to be taken care of by other Americans would vote for things that brought more money to our country, but they do not. I would like to end this column on a positive note but cannot.
(Michael Swickard hosts the syndicated radio talk show “News New Mexico” from 6 to 9 am. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)