As a basis for interventionist, collectivist and socialist actions by the central planners in our federal government, this 1854 quote of Abraham Lincoln is often used:
“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.”
On Sunday, September 30th, 1934, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used it in one of his fireside chats, his Depression era radio communiqué to the American people – the subject of which were the steps taken by the government during the Great Depression and the proposals that would eventually become the Social Security Act of 1935. The Lincoln quote is accurate – but incomplete. What followed those 38 words were 16 more that completely changed the context and meaning of the quote. Those were:
“In all that people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.”
Lincoln’s words seem so alien to our contemporary approach to government. With the growth of “progressive” thought in the late 1880’s, the social programs of the Great Depression and the modern incarnations – Johnson’s “Great Society/War on Poverty” and Obama’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), a large segment of America has shifted from trust in the individual to blind faith in government.
Government has rewarded that blind faith by gorging itself on large sections of the economy and individual liberty. It is grown so large that it is now a primary focus of American life.
One sure sign that the US federal government has grown too large is when presidential elections have taken on the characteristics of a life or death proposition. Holding the idea that either Trump or Hillary must save us (depending on your particular political proclivities) is tantamount to believing the cavalry is coming over the hill to rescue us.
Well, it isn’t. The cavalry is already here.
The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution narrowly defines the role of the central government and helpfully identifies the cavalry:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
When government grows to the size and scope it currently has achieved in America, it takes on a life of its own. It acts in its own best interests no matter which party is in “control” because no one can control it. It is as much a living, breathing entity as any living being – the biggest difference is that it can dictate the terms of its survival by taking whatever it desires from the national economy without restriction – if you do not believe that it can, just think about the ridiculously named “debt ceiling” legislation.
If it seems that the selection of a Supreme Court justice has too much impact on the future of our country, that’s because it does. If it seems that the “deep state”, the unelected and unaccountable rule-making bureaucracy, has too much reach, if it seems that taxpayer money is used as extortion, that’s because they do and it is. The adherents of progressive ideology have succeeded in politicizing every single aspect of life and now everything is viewed from a political perspective – if we aren’t electing someone who is promising to protect us from government power, we are electing them to do something we want or prohibiting someone from doing something we don’t want done – all through the use of government power.
Government has long exceeded its constitutional boundaries and electing a president based on anything other than a commitment to close the lid on Pandora’s Box is nothing less than an exercise in futility and a guarantee that America’s future will be worse, not better.