Small Government: A Past That Will No Longer Be Present

When discussing our political platform with conservatives and libertarians, they are mostly onboard for what we are proposing. They will bring up the mention of taxes and how to pay for it, which is easily answered with a simple plan to rebalance the budget. The critique that they will always attach themselves to, however, usually serves as a roadblock for any full support they may have for the platform—that hangup being this idea of big government. They will say that the platform in general is good, but it would be giving the state too much authority and that the idea of limited government the Founding Fathers have given us must be preserved. As beautiful as this concept of small government and self-reliance espoused by the American conservative seems, its practice in modern day society will likely never be seen again. 

The conditions of the twenty-first century world are entirely different than the conditions of eighteenth century America. A large scale society in that time did not have the means to be completely centralized to be run efficiently and thus localized states and communities worked best as a result of this limitation. When someone moves from one state to the other, say Oklahoma to California, it would not be a big deal in the modern day. Thanks to technological developments, we are given instantaneous communication to the family and friends we have left behind, and we can easily buy a plane ticket to see them in person within a span of a few hours. The eighteenth century man did not have this luxury. It would not have been a comfortable trip of a few hours, but almost an odyssey of weeks, often months, with no guarantee of seeing the people in his hometown ever again. 

Because community trust and interaction would be important in running these types of local states, assimilation and integration would be of the utmost importance to the eighteenth century migrant in question. He would have to make an effort for the people to know him and for him to know the people, adapt to their ways, and make himself an important pillar of the community. In successfully taking these actions, he has made himself trustworthy and respectable, allowing the community to have good faith in his involvement in their local politics. 

Compare these steps the man of the eighteenth century must undergo against the steps the twentieth century man takes. The twentieth century man, when he migrates to a new place, must find work at his chosen location. He must only need to accumulate enough money to buy a means of transportation in order to get there and then he is free to move there. He does not have to establish a means of trust within his local community. He simply has to have the resources to make the move there and stay there. The way things are going now, he might not even have to be a citizen of the nation, let alone a long time local resident, to take part in both local and national level politics.

Here we see the great transformation of the times that by large part can be thanks to the ease of access to anywhere in the world given to us by technology. Technology can allow us to connect all across the world—in a matter of seconds virtually and a matter of hours in physical reality. One does not have to make the same steps of assimilation and integration as one can keep bouncing from place to place with enough money, giving no care at attempts to establish mutual trust between him and his community. 

With these growing advancements of technology and communication, Localism serves little purpose in the management of self reliance within a community. Issues of trade the community critically depends on that would have taken weeks if not months, can be fixed in a fifteen minute conference call between the leaders of each community. The self reliance in community is no longer an issue and frankly most would choose this comfortable lifestyle than a hard self reliant one of the eighteenth century. 

Adding on top of that, having these localized communities without a central authority to guide their efforts would be a geopolitical disaster as the nation could not effectively organize itself to face a looming threat. The local communities would have to depend on a defense policy of mutual defense and self interest that would lose solid ground if territory, or in this case a local community, were to be occupied by a strong and centralized enemy. Most American conservatives would agree with this point. We need a strong military that will defend our nation’s borders, but a strong military means one centralized by federal authority, something I really wouldn’t consider a part of a “small government”. 

Centralization of power is a must in the modern world and it is one most desired by all nations who wish to further their strength as we see in Russia and China, the new contenders for so-called geopolitical supremacy the same conservatives cry about on the national stage of politics. Decentralization of our government will only lead to further disaster in the form of unneeded disunity, something we can all agree this nation doesn’t need more of and something our supposed enemies would gleefully support. The debate of small government versus big government is soon to become irrelevant, not only for the above stated reasons but it is yet another example of a false dichotomy. Government has and always will be a tool humans use to organize themselves for the mutual benefit it’s society’s members, always existing independently from any fantasy tale libertarian theorists will like to tell themselves. A better and more accurate dichotomy would be the efficient and effective state versus the inefficient and ineffective state—the choice we make here being an obvious one.