So there’s a huge divide in America right now between those who hate what they call “big government” and those who like a so-called “big government”. It seems at first glance to be a vague and non-specific topic, but I think at the heart of this question is the reason why politics has become so polarized. How can a government solve any problems when a large percentage of people, even politicians themselves, see the government as the cause of our problems? In the Zakaria essay we’ve been bludgeoning ourselves with all week he alludes to this problem, but it has only gotten worse in the two years since he wrote his piece.
This debate over size of government has existed since our beginning. It’s true that the founding fathers generally hated the idea of a large centralized government ruling over everything, but neither were they the strict states-rights guys that conservative Republicans like to say they were. One of the first major items that George Washington put into law was the creation of a National Bank. Though he did sign this legislation somewhat reluctantly, he still believed that for the U.S. to establish itself as a major player on the world stage this step was essential.
Now of course that we are established, many conservatives feel that it’s time to scale back our immenseness, which they see as an unwelcome intrusion into programs that could be handled better at the state level. Meanwhile, many of a more liberal bent see cutting such programs to be a step backward. The hobby horse most Republicans are whipping the hell out of right now is a little thing called the National Debt. They see this fourteen trillion dollar beast as an unpleasant byproduct of “big government”.
I found an article called National Debt: Are Higher Taxes Needed to Reduce the Debt? by Marcia Clemmitt. Raising taxes is one of the most toxic debates going right now. Typically, those against “big government” oppose raising taxes of any kind, on anybody. On the other side are those who, I guess, love “big government” who won’t even discuss cutting entitlements without having higher taxes be part of the package.
( Stylistic question for Meredith: If I’m going to write about “big government” do I have to keep putting quotation marks around it? It’s getting annoying. At a certain point, can we just assume quotes? Or am I doing it wrong from the start?)
My second article will probably be a delightful piece called Tea Party Movement: Will Angry Conservatives Reshape the Republican Party? by Peter Katel. The tea baggers fascinate me. They’re basically a bunch of angry white folks who think the government is too “big”. They only want what they feel they’re entitled to and fuck everyone else. (That’s how I see them. In my essay maybe I’ll be a little more tactful.;) This movement that hates the president and hates everything democratic has creeped into the normally reasonable Republican Party and started to affect our politics. Many recently elected members of Congress are of this movement. The irony is that they hate government, they run for office, and then don’t do anything once they get there. They seem to have no constructive ideas except to be against everything. Again, that’s my opinion and open to debate. But I think to be against everything is not a real principle, it’s just plain douchebaggery.
I really believe this debate over size and powers of government is crucial to understanding the mess we’re in right now. So as of this moment, my inquiry question has to be “Does Size Really Matter?” You know states can’t get along without the federal government. What happens every time there’s a disaster in this country? The states need help from the feds. Then they bitch that the programs they send their representatives to D.C. to gut aren’t there for their needs. Look at how Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and half of Congress wouldn’t vote them federal aid! These provincial attitudes just don’t cut it with me. When it happens to them, the state cries for help. If it’s another state, the cry is “Fuck them!” It’s absolutely disgusting.
Is the size of government the problem with our nation’s slippage? Or is that an excuse? A big government has to naturally be a government for the majority, right? Then how come we’re still run by special interests? If the tea baggers hate today’s America so much, then why don’t they just leave? A country isn’t the creation of one group of people, and it’s supposed to belong to all of us. Why is the quality of our lives degrading? Is that the fault of a big government? It all comes back to that question for me, and I’m really going to try to come up with an answer.
So stay tuned for Essay #2!
812 words; 5:50 PM; 8/9/13