Sunday, July 20, 2008

Limited Does Not Mean Small or Weak

Limited government can be distinguished from small government. There are instances in which government can be big and expensive and yet its purposes remain limited.

Limited government can enhance our freedom-even though it costs money. The Declaration of Independence is a great meditation on the difference between the absolute despotism contemplated by King George III and the freedom that the Americans hoped to enjoy under their own form of self-government.

Limited government can be compatible with energetic government. That is, limited government that doesn't mean government that does as little as possible. To fight terrorists, or even to arrest and prosecute criminals, requires an energetic government , especially in the executive branch.

Limited government must be constitutional government. Government must be limited to its proper ends, but its means must be capable of effecting those ends.

Limited government, in the sense of constitutional government, is opposed to the political assumptions of the modern state, which arose after the New Deal.

The decline of limited government in the 20th century was not inevitable. Neither is big government's demise inevitable.

Limited government is not a lost cause. The restoration of constitutional government will require a lot from us. It will require searching political reconsideration as well as profound political prudence, neither of which has been on offer, so far, in the 2008 presidential campaign.

(Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College)

No comments: