We are often lectured that a major difference between liberals and conservatives is that the former “care” about the common people, while the latter are concerned only for themselves and their own. Many believe that it was this sentiment that doomed Mitt Romney’s presidential chances when a video surfaced where he said:
[T]here are 47 percent…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.
Now the way this statement played out in the media did indeed contribute to Romney’s defeat, but was he wrong? Are conservatives really deaf to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged? Is it true that they actually ignore the fact that there are many in this country who, through physical or mental disabilities, are unable to provide for themselves and their families? Naturally, the answer to these questions is a resounding “of course not”! But can it be that conservatives believe that the responsibility of caring for these unfortunates lies not with the federal government, but elsewhere? In a word, yes.
It is commendable to have compassion for the poor and to want to help them, but this is not the role of the U.S. government. It would be wonderful if everyone in this country enjoyed the high level of healthcare afforded to the likes of unions and other groups, but it is not the role of government to provide it. I’d like to see each American child educated to his fullest capacity, but this again, is not the role of the federal government. In fact, all these are worthy and vital goals but they do not fall under the authority granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, under which auspices we allegedly continue to operate.
The maintenance of a republic and the individual freedom that it supports is a job for every citizen. We all have an individual duty to educate and improve not only ourselves but our children as well. We have an individual duty to help others and a duty to return that help when it is given. This maintenance takes work and Americans have grown too accustomed to asking the government to do things for us that we should be doing ourselves.
“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves in their separate, individual capacities. In all that people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.”
Abraham Lincoln – 1854