My husband and I are both conservative in our views on government and its role in our lives. We were talking the other day and observed some trends that I thought were worth mentioning.
We noticed that many of our friends and relatives who are not conservative, work for big institutions or public agencies. They are wonderful people, don’t get me wrong, but their way of looking at government could not be more different than ours.
These friends think government will take care of everyone, much like an indulgent parent; that it should provide health care, pensions and even ongoing unemployment payments so no one will be forced to take a job beneath their dignities.
They believe in regulations, lots of regulations; rules about guns, money, land, food, education and more. And that charitable giving is best when government collects the money then bestows it on the recipients they choose.
Perhaps working for a large institution or agency promotes a sense of dependency. Maybe it removes folks from the need, and ability, to stand on their own. Do they have a sense of being at the mercy of influences which can’t be controlled, so big government appears to be the savior? In my view, big government is not the answer, it’s the problem.
Thomas Jefferson said “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” And Ronald Reagan agreed, saying “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”
As conservatives, we believe in our own ability to run our lives, our family and our business. We want to conserve the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. We don’t look to government to give us our income, our sustenance or to cure all evils. Certainly there is an important role for government, but it is to do those things we cannot possibly do for ourselves, and that limitation was breeched some time back. Tidal waves of government now are breaking over those boundaries.
My friend Ron Nilson, a hard working business owner, told me the following story long ago but it still sticks in my memory. He said that even if the government took every single thing we all own, right down to our clothes, and we were told to line up naked along the coastline of country, where the government would hand everyone an equal share of the collected money, the situation would not look different in 10 years. The same people would be successful. And the same people would be whining about the system being unfair and demanding government help.
I think Ron is right: Self reliance is a mental attitude. It is not something that can be given, it must be earned. But it can and should be modeled. Parents who sit around the dinner table and complain rather than problem-solve, who excuse rather than inspire, and who ridicule rather than honor the successes of others, do their children a great disservice. The family is the most important educator, and it is here that success and self-reliance begin.
One of our liberal friends recently commented that, in retrospect, the way they raised their kids was not the best. They pampered and protected their children, giving them everything, even keeping them from uncomfortable summer jobs. Now as young adults those same kids are struggling. They have not found their personal strength; they don’t trust their ability to succeed and, even more importantly, they fear failure because they didn’t learn how to pick themselves up, work through their problems and try again.
Our government has turned into a coddling, over-protective parent. And we’ve got to learn from our mistake of allowing government to take too much control. It’s time to take back our inalienable rights and return to limited government, at all levels. We can and must do this in order to leave our children and grandchildren the potential and opportunity we had starting out. We can right these wrongs and leave a brighter future for the next generations.
Let me end with one more quote from Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of our nation, who observed, “ A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.”
Personal Note: You may have noticed it’s been a few weeks since my last newsletter. We’ve been busy with family events and milestones, and the summer is likewise full of good and wonderful celebrations. We will have our first family wedding, for our only daughter, later this summer, so the preparations are many. These are such important times in our lives!
I will continue to watch a few local issues, and please let me know if you see things too, but my newsletters this summer will be unpredictable. I may even send some re-runs, if they are on relevant topics. And remember you can access all my past columns and newsletters by visiting my free archive website at: www.marysouzacda.com
Thanks for your patience, and cheers to a happy summer! --Mary