When my thoughts first turned to this article, I imagined taking a case-by-case, issue-by-issue approach to demonstrate that government’s role when seen through a Constitutional lens is to empower us rather than to limit us. This was going to highlight through an evidentiary process how this nation can survive and thrive when government gets out of the way and allows the American people to do what we’ve always done: make things happen.
While compiling the ample evidence to present my case, something changed. My mindset shifted from that of a courtroom attorney to that of a physician seeking to diagnose the root cause. This particular study was so easy with evidence so blatant that I started to wonder how in the world we came to this state of being in the first place. Why has government turned into the nursemaid that wakes people up to give them their sleeping pills? When did the people start allowing the government to tell us what we’re allowed to do instead of giving us guidance through laws that tell us what we shouldn’t do? That’s when it dawned on me that I was asking the wrong questions and, perhaps, fighting the wrong battle.
Could it be that the current manifestations of government are the result of a people that generally doesn’t want to do or think for ourselves? Did we create the nanny state because enough of the population demanded more nannies? As you read this, you’re probably thinking to yourself that the answers are obvious, that liberalism has enabled laziness while enabling entitlements to overrun the halls of governance. Were we fed enough lies that we became the problem that we wanted to solve in the first place?
As I looked deeper into everything, I realized that it’s not a one-sided issue. Even conservatives have embraced the nanny state mentality in many instances. They justify it better; I look at Marco Rubio as an example. I liked Rubio even though he wasn’t my first choice for the GOP nomination. One of the things that I didn’t like was his appeasement of the Big Sugar lobby. They’ve supported him since his early days in politics when he was barely known in Florida, let alone to the nation. Since then, he has been one of their biggest protectors, shielding them from the “evils” of free trade by subsidizing them in ways that prevent foreign competition with cheaper and better sugar from muscling into our free market economy. Is he still a conservative? Mostly, yes. Is he still part of the problem? Absolutely.
America was built on innovation and creation on the backs of hard working industrialists striving to continuously improve. However, there were those who took advantage of their power to prevent others from challenging. This is where the need for oversight and protections became relevant and even necessary. From the late 19th- to early 20th-century, income inequality and the power of the “one percent” was so rampant that it would trigger any modern day delicate snowflake into hyperventilation. The people demanded protections. They demanded that the government reach in and do something about it. The government obliged and fought the “robber barons” and “evil industrialists” to make sure that conditions and opportunity were in place for a wider multitude. This was a good thing.
It turned into a bad thing. Safeguards turned into regulations. Oversight turned into audits which turned into direct meddling which turned into the “necessary” bailouts of today. Then, the rich fought back as they’re wont to do. They put more money into influential activists who eventually became lobbyists. When they couldn’t coax the politics in their direction, they bought more politicians. The struggle for money and power took on a life of its own in dark alleys or behind closed doors. Today, influence is still being purchased, but it’s happening in broad daylight. Big Sugar didn’t have to use a proxy to meet with a trusted secret ally of Rubio’s at midnight in an empty parking garage. They filed the proper paperwork, contributed the right amount of money to the right people, and “earned” their subsidies through Rubio’s rise.
Here’s the problem. Whenever topics such as these are brought up, it’s usually on a conspiracy theory forum or on an anarchist’s blog. It doesn’t have to be. This is a topic worthy of mainstream attention, but it’s given next to none. Why? Because to get a full understanding of how it works and why, one must first acknowledge that the system can be fixed. Unfortunately, the system is so interwoven and tightly knitted into every other system (including the 4th and 5th estates) that it’s simply accepted. Those who understand it feel that it’s corrupt but couldn’t imagine a way to take it apart. The majority who don’t understand can curse about corruption and talk about how dirty our politicians really are, but they have no other way to act other than to vent.
If the system of overreaching government, obtuse regulations, out-of-control entitlements, and upside-down tax and spend policies could be unraveled, we could build something that has never been built before: a true capitalistic republic that was driven by innovation and an empowered citizenry. Earlier, I wrote that innovation and creation built this nation, but mending it today and reclaiming our exceptionalism is not possible with the current state of affairs. This is extremely depressing because the advancements of communication and infrastructure that we enjoy today would yield the prime environment for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if we could just get government to allow it. We tasted this prosperity through most of the 20th century, but we got lazy. We got comfortable. We took our eye off the ball and failed to recognize that big government, once thought necessary to protect us, has become our greatest obstacle.
Imagine a government that protected everyone’s opportunity rather than everyone’s well-being. Instead of a nanny state, imagine a state that focused on helping people find and achieve personal goals. Instead of being protected, they could be empowered. Would some people fail? Yes. Would they require help? Yes. Should the government be the one who helps them? In most cases, no. Even the status of our welfare state could be privatized. The industry of caring for others in need has been left to the government and it continues to grow. While the government can provide the final safety net to prevent people from hitting the bottom, every safety net above could be better maintained in the private sector. We can see this very clearly evident in the most liberal cities in the country. The more the government “cares” for the people, the worse off those people tend to be.
Imagine a government that only regulated what absolutely needed to be regulated for the safety of citizens rather than the protection of special interests, a government that reduced taxes and fees on businesses to the point that they could be competitive on any market, whether local, national, or global. Instead of Big Sugar spending money lobbying and contributing to campaigns, what if they put all of their efforts (not to mention the money they didn’t have to pay to lobbyists and political campaigns) into innovation. Instead of relying on subsidies and tariffs, they would be forced to rely on their capabilities. Instead of figuring out how to keep the foreign companies down, what if they figured out how to make better sugar at a cheaper cost?
Whether it’s people or businesses, when the government takes away our ability to fail, they reduce our opportunity to succeed.
These are all topics that would require much more fleshing out than what I can put in a single blog post, but it’s important to understand one thing: none of this can be fixed without two major changes. The first major change is the two-party political system. Conservatives have no home for themselves. We rent a room in over the garage in the GOP’s house because it’s less liberal in general than the Democrats. Sadly, we are seeing a post-conservative Republican Party that still lays claim to the mantle of Reagan, Coolidge, and Lincoln without actually taking advantage of the mantle’s conservative philosophies. We need a new party.
The second major change is that we need an Article V Convention of States. It’s a good thing that there hasn’t been one in the past. Frankly, it wasn’t needed and would not have worked properly. Today, it’s desperately needed. Many fear a Convention of States because there’s a potential for disaster if it isn’t handled properly. The only way that it could work is if the vision of people like Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, and Mark Levin could be realized. We need amendments to the Constitution that rein in the federal government. We don’t need to add more restrictions to the people. We need to prevent Washington DC from continuing down the road it’s on.
This is a lot to take in and we’re just scratching the surface. In this strange Presidential election year, most eyes are on one candidate who will destroy us and another candidate who will transform us. Regardless of who wins, we know that government is going to continue to grow. It’s up to conservatives, TRUE conservatives, to stand athwart history yelling, “stop!” Otherwise, these issues big and small that we’re facing in the election will become irrelevant as the nation crumbles under the weight of a government that’s supposed to be covering our flank.