There was a time, so I’ve heard, when civics class in high school imparted basic principles of our republic and the constitutional restraints imposed on government. Specifically, Americans were shown the federal government’s role was limited, Congress needed to act only within the constraints of their enumerated powers, the executive branch wan’t supposed to use loopholes to legislate, and the Supreme Court determined legality based on the Constitution.
Those lessons have been lost on recent generations. Washington DC has been accumulating “responsibilities” for decades now. Most Americans have simply grown accustomed to the federal government being involved with pretty much everything. Even issues that very clearly do not belong in their hands such as healthcare and marriage have had DC impose the “law of the land” to rein over them. This trend needs to stop.
Before we get into that, we have to understand how it happened so we can prevent it from happening in the future if and when we’re able to finally draw back their power.
Free stuff wins elections
The Democrats of yesteryear learned a very important lesson from FDR and others: if you give people free stuff, they’ll vote for you. Free stuff can be as simple as welfare and government-supplied employment or it can be as complex as healthcare and education, but invariably this free stuff comes at a great cost. We see this cost manifested directly through massive taxation; even the GOP’s proposed tax cut bill is more than we should be supplying to the national government. Those who look behind the curtain realize this cost has manifested in huge ways with the outrageous budgets, massive waste, and a gargantuan national debt.
It’s all about votes. The Republican Party has embraced this notion even if they pretend like they don’t. They’ll campaign on fiscal conservatism, then practice the complete opposite with Democratesque fiscal irresponsibility. We saw a glaring example of this with the Obamacare repeal we’ve been promised for seven years. Now that they actually have all the pieces in place to make it happen, they presented us with several replacement bills that do very little to actually repeal anything. These bills were redistribution schemes that kept the core of government-run and taxpayer-subsidized health insurance completely intact. Even with these atrocious “repeal and replacement” bills that were actually “tweak and rebrand” maneuvers, they still couldn’t put a bill on the President’s desk. Was it because there were enough conservatives in both chambers who saw through the facade of these non-repeals? No. Some did, but most of them went along with it. The bills didn’t pass because some Republicans felt they weren’t quite fiscally irresponsible enough.
Why couldn’t they just pass the full repeal they proudly placed on President Obama’s desk in 2015? Because they knew President Trump wouldn’t veto it. As always, they put on the show of limiting government but only as a bluff. When they have the opportunity to actually do it, they intentionally fumble. Why? Because they believe (falsely) that the optics of “taking away healthcare from millions” would doom them in the midterm elections.
Free stuff wins elections. Taking away free stuff loses elections. With this knowledge, how can we have any hope that we can reverse the expansion of DC’s size and scope?
The truth is against them
Ask any American if they trust government and believe that DC should be more involved in our lives. Most would shout a resounding “no!” Then ask why they continue to support people who give us government-run… everything. You’ll get various responses and you won’t be able to change anyone’s mind with this line of questioning. That’s the real problem we face as a nation. We’ve generally been indoctrinated into the thinking that government needs to fix the bulk of our problems.
Here’s the truth of the matter: the vast majority of things DC tries to fix fails miserably. Most Americans know this in their hearts, but they persist on believing the failure isn’t in government’s involvement but because the wrong people with the wrong ideas are in charge. Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. Most people willfully ignore that it doesn’t matter which party is in control at any given time because the steady trend of decadence never ends. It’s always broken. From the Department of Education to the Environmental Protection Agency, we see nothing but failure after failure with a handful of occasional public relations wins sprinkled in.
The only way to put an end to this trend is to educate enough Americans about how government is really supposed to run. Parents, teachers, schools, school districts, cities, and states should be making decisions about education. Nobody outside of a state’s border should be able to get in between doctor and patient. The examples of how we limit government, particularly the trickle-down policies of Washington DC, are limitless. The examples of why we limit government (their abundant failures) are equally limitless. The truth is on our side.
There’s one piece of this puzzle that’s missing. How do we do this? How can we make Americans, whether conservative or liberal, understand that the best solutions come from individuals, states, and everywhere in-between with limited interference from DC? I wish I knew that answer. In fact, I’m actively trying to figure that out.
If the people can ever be made to realize many of the problems we face today are direct or indirect effects of expanding government, we’d have an opportunity to make real change. That real change can only happen when the people demand the federal government focus on what the Constitution allows on its plate. Everything else, as the 10th Amendment declares, “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”