“Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.”
~ Ronald Reagan
Forty years ago, Ronald Reagan spoke passionately and eloquently at his first Inaugural address about the size of government. A large part of his speech that day was a genuine concern about an out-of-control federal government and how his new administration would work to reduce that growth and decrease regulations. As much as Reagan did during the 1980’s to try and rein in government and allow for more personal independence to live life as each individual saw fit we have seen government balloon to an even more expansive behemoth.
America is at a critical point in history. This republic, as it currently stands, sits at a precipice. With a $30 trillion national debt that continues to grow at an alarming rate, with no end in sight, and a new Biden administration eager to grow government bureaucracy and spend like drunken sailors, we must ask some serious questions.
Has government grown beyond the consent of the governed? How much government does a nation need? What percentage of the population believes that more government is the answer to all that ails us? These questions require us to engage in critical discussions as a country to decide our fate. Failing to have a rational conversation about the size and scope of government only increases our odds of destroying America.
Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to escape from the tyranny of an overgrown government bureaucracy and create a constitutional representative republic. They intended for limited government that allowed people to live their own lives freely without government bureaucracy restricting their ability to earn a living. The federal government was limited in the powers it had. States were given the primary power to run their governments as they saw fit.
Over time the federal government has grown. Under FDR and the New Deal, government bureaucracy ballooned in an effort to put people to work and address the economic hardships brought on by the Great Depression. This was a real shift towards big central government planning and a diminishing of the self-governing independence our republic had been built on.
Then as the 1960’s unfolded, LBJ and “The Great Society” programs added another layer of increasing government bureaucracy. It created such programs as Medicare and Medicaid and greatly increased entitlement spending and social programs to combat poverty and racial injustice. It made the food stamp program permanent and created more federal agencies and bureaucracy. As history shows us, when new government programs and agencies are established, they never sunset and go away. They continue to grow and need to be fed more taxpayer money.
The 1970’s brought more government bureaucracy and created new agencies such as OSHA, the EPA, and a new Department of Education. The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002, combining 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified and integrated cabinet agency. The list goes on and on. More government bureaucracy with more taxpayer money needed to run Washington D.C.
Have the American people grown increasingly weary of this bloated federal government? A recent Rasmussen Reports polling survey conducted back in November of 2020 seems to indicate they have indeed. It found that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with Reagan’s Inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Just 27% disagreed and 14% were undecided. Noteworthy, that is the highest level of agreement on that question since Rasmussen Reports started asking it back in 2008. What’s even more interesting is that even 50% of Democrats agree with Reagan’s statement. The percentages are higher for those unaffiliated with a party (58%) and Republicans (70%).
In another polling survey conducted by Gallup, they asked Americans if the federal government had too much power, the right amount, or too little. The most recent data was back in September of 2019 and found 56% of the respondents felt the federal government had too much power compared to 38% who felt it was about the right amount. A year earlier that percentage was 53%. Since 2005, the percentage of Americans who say the federal government has too much power has been at 50% or higher. So clearly, a majority of the American people have at least a sense that government has grown too expansive.
Has government grown beyond the consent of the governed? The argument can be made it most definitely has. While there is a percentage of Americans who believe that government is the solution to all of our problems there seems to be enough people still of the belief that too much government is a problem that needs to be addressed.
This shouldn’t be a right or left issue. This should be a genuine concern no matter what your political views may be. As government expands, freedom and liberty continues to contract. We have seen this truth play out over the last several decades of our republic.
The time to rein in government is now front and center. The American people need to have an open and honest conversation about the continued growth of government. It’s time for the governed to reassert their role as the boss. If Americans truly value their independence and self-reliance then it is imperative to alter this course we are on. Failure to do our due diligence will ultimately result in the loss of our constitutional republic and place us back in the chains of tyranny.
“A free people cannot shift their responsibility for them to the government. Self-government means self-reliance.”
~ Calvin Coolidge
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