In short, government is power.
To be sure, under the long-established laws and traditions of Western Civilization power is granted by the people. But nonetheless, we must recognize that it is power that the people have granted—by delegating their own authority—and that trade-offs come with this transfer of power.
There is a natural human impulse to expand one’s sphere of influence. That same inclination makes successful entrepreneurs and athletes. When their influence is checked by marketplace competition, no one’s rights need be threatened.
But when government officials inevitably share this natural human impulse, it necessarily threatens the freedoms of the people they represent.
The principle of limited government is simply a recognition of James Madison’s words,
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
But, just as government exists to protect the rights of individuals from other individuals, the corollary is also true: the power of the less-than-angelic men who make up our government must be limited to protect the rights of individuals.
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the government’s proper role is not easy to achieve, but it is simple to understand.
When you call for more government influence in fiscal policy, then the government will tell you how much of your paycheck you get to keep. If you want more government influence in the so-called social arena of life, then government will tell you where and how you are allowed to exercise your faith. When you call for an increase in regulation, keep in mind that the government has the potential to control every single aspect of your life.
How you view the role of governmental power largely determines how you approach your role as a citizen, and two such opposing views are on full display at the national level today.
One view holds that the beneficence of government will lift all citizens to a higher plane of peace and tranquility. The other view, which I share, holds that government is populated by flawed individuals who, regardless of their intentions, will eventually succumb to the siren call of power and begin to rule rather than represent.
I believe that peace, tranquility, and prosperity come from freedom — not a more powerful government.
With everything in life, there are trade-offs. Handing over more power to the government comes with some of the biggest.