A New-Year Reminder: We Can Have Any Government We Want

The title of this post is certainly accurate, but it’s also a vast oversimplification once you begin to perform any genuine analysis at all.  The reason for this complication is that “we” is a really big word.  “We,” the citizens of the United States, entitled as we are to the right to vote for our elected representatives, are many different things rolled into one.  When it comes to political identity “we” are Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and more.

That’s why we need smaller government. 

One of the truths that was so perfectly grasped by our nation’s Founders is the reality that humans are social animals who act in mobs–and this includes political mobs.  I mean no disrespect by the use of the word “mob.”  I’m simply trying to represent the fact that people tend to think and act in groups.  It’s a psychological factor that allows us to experience a sense of correctness or a sense that what we’re up to is the right thing or the necessary thing.  We’re comforted by being in groups that act and think as we do, and we’re often quite uncomfortable stepping outside the group to think or act independently.

Our Founders recognized that people have a tendency toward what we today call “group think,” which can be used to limit the rights of those who disagree with the majority.  That, my dear reader, is what is known as majoritarianism. 

To the minds of our Founders, the majority had no more right to impose its will on the rest of a society than a king or emperor. 

For this reason, members of the House of Representatives, though elected by popular vote, were limited to terms of only two years.  The Senate, on the other hand, was elected not by popular vote but by vote of state legislatures.  The Senate was to be a place where cool heads prevailed and where populist ideas were allowed to die.  The Founders knew that if government were used to give free reign to every possible necessity, it would have to be big enough to limit the freedom of its citizens.

Perhaps it’s true that we’re all fiscal conservatives when it comes to the things on which other people want to spend money.  But when it comes to our own preferences, it seems we want government intervention and we want it immediately.

This is destroying us.  Government is not–and cannot be–the cure for all of our ills.  But as long as we continue thinking it is so, we will dig ourselves into a financial hole that is deeper and deeper and deeper.  There will be a price to pay … there always is.  The Austrian economists have demonstrated it and they will soon be vindicated by historical events.

I fervently believe that our only hope is to elect officials who will not be sent into office to do something, but who will empower citizens to do for themselves.  And let’s pray in this new year that it’s not too late for that.


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