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Aug 22, 2005 12:07 pm

Big Government

Alan Lichtman’s recent posting, “Big Government of the Right,” makes some excellent points about how conservatives are using U.S. government power to implement their agenda.

But this is not a new phenomenon. From the Alien and Sedition Acts to the suppression of the Pullman strike, from the Fugitive Slave Act to President Bush’s “faith-based initiatives,” conservatives have had few scruples about employing U.S. government power to further the interests of privileged groups. They were also willing enough to foster “big government” when it provided for the largest and most expensive statist program in world history: modern war. It is only when “big government” threatens to free the slaves, raise the minimum wage, end segregation, regulate corporations, or guarantee poor people the right to decent health care that they develop qualms about it.

To point this out is not to disparage a genuinely libertarian approach, such as the one championed so valiantly and for so many years by the American Civil Liberties Union. It is merely to observe that libertarianism is not at the core of the conservative position. Indeed, George W.’s daddy, during his 1988 Presidential campaign, repeatedly denounced his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, as a “card-carrying member of the ACLU”!

Whether through big or small government, the goal of conservatives has been (and is) to promote the interests of the privileged. And they are doing a fine job of it!

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