A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BIG Government

Well hello there! It's been a while since I blogged about politics, and in related news:

Hahahahaha, but seriously. I don't really feel like blogging about the dumpster fire that is the current administration. So this post is of a more general nature about the role of government.

In one episode of The West Wing, Toby Ziegler, President Bartlet's communications director and chief speechwriter, rages against a phrase that some people want to include in the State of the Union address: "The era of big government is over." He makes one of my favorite speech-lets of the series after President Barlet asks if he wants to cut the line:

I want to change the sentiment. We're running away from ourselves, and I know we can score points that way. I was the principle architect in that campaign strategy...But we're here now. Tomorrow night, we do an immense thing. We have to say what we feel. That government, no matter what its failures are in the past, and in times to come, for that matter, the government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one gets left behind, an instrument of good. I have no trouble understanding why the line tested well... but I don't think that means we should say it. I think that means we should change it. (From The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 12, "He Shall, From Time to Time")
One of the things that makes me a liberal is a belief in government. I really struggle when I see people posting on social media things like the Ronald Reagan quote "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." What they are really saying with that quote is that they don't trust themselves. In a democracy, "we the people" are the government. I believe that government can and should be a place for us as a people to come together - to "self-rule."

There is, of course, such a thing as too much government - I'm by no means suggesting that every aspect of government is perfect (or needed!). But I do think that a government that reflects the best of us, and our popular will, is an important part of society.

When he accepted the position to serve as Energy Secretary, Rick Perry took some ribbing, considering that he famously wanted to abolish the Energy Department but couldn't remember it during a Republican primary debate (okay, I guess this is a *little* bit about the current administration). But he came to see why it was an important government agency once he learned about what they do. I think there-in is a kernel of wisdom - everyone is against government until they learn about the important functions it serves.

I saw a bumper sticker today with a quote of PJ O'Rourke that said "Republicans say government doesn't work & then they get elected and prove it." Democrats can be just as bad at making government effective, but the special disdain Republicans have for government makes it more than a bit ironic that they continue to seek to run for office. So, yes, I am a fan of "big" government - a government big enough for all the people to come together and work towards making our society a better place.

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