While conservatives and liberals disagree on any number of small, headline-worthy issues, the crux of the argument usually comes down to one fundamental difference of opinion. Liberals believe that the federal government should play a greater role in the lives of Americans, and conservatives believe quite the opposite. When it comes to almost any issue, this disagreement can be found at the heart.
Each liberal can define for themselves where they derive their belief in big government, but conservatives need look no further than the founding fathers to back up our arguments for limited government. And when you contrast what Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and the rest envisioned for the country with what we have now, you get a sense of why conservatives are so irritated with the current state of things. The federal government has ballooned into a monster, going well beyond the original size and scope laid out in the Constitution.
Justice for All
The Constitution hands the federal government the power of authority in only those cases where it would be illogical to give it to the states. That includes national defense, foreign negotiations, currency, and international trade. Most of the rest was left to the states. This gave more power to the people, which was always one of the guiding philosophies that made America different than anything that had ever come before. The concerns of Florida do not match the concerns of, say, Alaska. If power was strongly centralized, neither state would be able to address their respective concerns appropriately.
It has become trendy in liberal “social justice” communities to argue that “state’s rights” is coded racism among conservatives. They derive this, of course, from disputes over the cause of the Civil War. But while some Southerners may maintain that slavery had little to do with the bloody war, the reality is that a modern discussion of state’s rights has nothing to do with the 1800s. It has everything to do with a massive, unsustainable federal government. It has everything to do with politicians in Washington legislating culture for a country that is only slightly smaller than the whole of Europe.
A Lost Party
Republicans have been derelict in their duty to fight for small government, a fact that gave rise to the tea party. Tea party conservatives and libertarians believe that it’s time for the GOP to re-embrace the limited-government aims of the Constitution. Return more power to the states, and limit the endless centralization of power that has crept up on America for the last 200 years.
This principle not only beats back the federal regulations, overreaching laws, and rising taxes imposed by Washington, it also limits the threat from evil. Fact is, we’ve been fortunate in this country to avoid a power-seizing dictator in the mold of a Hitler. If one slips through, wouldn’t it be nice if he didn’t have the power to do much damage? By placing only the very least amounts of authority in the federal government, we can impose safeguards against dictatorship.
There’s been nothing quite like America in more than 4,000 years of recorded history. But our country is just as susceptible to decline and destruction as any other. The further we stray from the principles that conspired to form the foundation, the more we risk a dramatic fall.