We Have Got to Get the Government Out of Government!


It seems to be a common myth that conservatives are anti-government, but I’m not sure this is accurate. I might say that it’s more the case that liberals see the role of the government as a helpful one, while conservatives think it should be primarily punitive. As far as I can tell, the idea that conservatives are anti-government comes from how they think private industry can handle just about anything better than the government. For instance, some people will admit the health care system is terrible, but think the government would only make it worse. I really feel this attitude is kind of unfair, because while it’s true the government doesn’t do everything well, it has performed some of its functions successfully. To say that its track record is just one failure after another would be rather disingenuous. And my view on privatization is that it often results in exclusionary policies. I mean, private industries are going to want to appeal to consumers who have money, not those who don’t, right? As such, the people who can’t afford as much are likely to slip through the cracks. Some of that is bound to happen no matter who’s in charge, but I think the government has more of a responsibility to the less fortunate citizens. That’s why, to my mind, wanting to privatize everything amounts to wanting to keep out the poor people, even if it isn’t a conscious thought on the part of the people who hold that position.

Mind you, that’s mostly looking at a fiscal conservative position, which isn’t quite the same as that held by religious conservatives. The view of the Religious Right on government is something I’m not entirely sure about, and what I do know often seems contradictory. But then, the fundamentalist mindset is all about holding disparate opinions while condemning moral relativism. Anyway, it strikes me as largely a result of the marriage of the Republican Party to Christian fundamentalism that we get the strange and popular position that can be summed up as, “Keep the government out of my pocketbook, but in my bedroom!” Or in YOUR bedroom, anyway; it’s a very busybody sort of philosophy. I suppose the conservative viewpoint would be opposed to gay marriage on the grounds that it’s a pretty new idea and conservatives want to keep things basically the same, but the total hatred of homosexuality comes across as more of a religious thing. Same way with the anti-abortion stance. Since when are conservatives pro-life? Aren’t they more likely to favor war and the death penalty? Whether Christianity is even compatible with big-business capitalism is another question, and one that I might address in another post. Anyway, I think the fundamentalist viewpoint isn’t anti-government per se, but it’s more or less against the notion of government by the people and for the people. Rather, it favors a theocracy, with the role of the government being to enforce particular religious mores. What it would do when the fundamentalists themselves can’t agree on an issue isn’t clear, but I don’t know that the supporters of this idea think that far ahead.

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5 Responses to We Have Got to Get the Government Out of Government!

  1. I really wish that people wouldn’t associate the religious right with conservatives. They are not the same thing at all and it’s an issue I have with the Republican party, that “conservatives” like Santorum or Perry can run as conservative candidates, when the only really “conservative” thing they have going for them is social conservatism.

    “I suppose the conservative viewpoint would be opposed to gay marriage on the grounds that it’s a pretty new idea and conservatives want to keep things basically the same.”

    It’s not so much that we want to keep things the same, it’s that we want to do what works and NEWER does not always equal BETTER. Many of the concepts that progressives want to try in our country have failed in other countries, so we disapprove of trying them here on the off chance that they might work.

    Also, any true conservative (not social conservative) would support same sex marriage, or civil unions (as many of us don’t think marriage should be a government issue at all) based solely on the fact that it’s basically property law. And if there is one thing that conservatives like, it’s property rights.

    On the other hand, as most conservatives are strict constitutionalists, we don’t support the federal government getting involved either. Since civil unions/marriage should be a state’s rights issue.

    “Same way with the anti-abortion stance. Since when are conservatives pro-life? Aren’t they more likely to favor war and the death penalty?”

    Can you honestly tell me that you don’t see a difference between the abortion of an innocent fetus/baby (whatever your preferred noun is) and the death penalty for a murderer, rapist, pedophile, or other violent criminal? Or no difference between abortion and going to war with any enemy of your country?
    One is murder, one is defense of your country and defense of your allies, and one is justice. There is a significant difference.
    Of course I’m both pro-choice and pro-life, confusing, but I’ve written about that on my blog. http://thesnarkwhohuntsback.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/what-i-want-to-know-is-why-did-they-keep-the-aborted-fetuses-and-other-musings-on-abortion/

    • Nathan says:

      Well, I would think most members of the Religious Right consider themselves conservative, even if they really aren’t by a strict definition. Mind you, I can sometimes be a bit loose with my terminology, because political views are usually too complicated to sum up in a few words. I understand that conservative, right-wing, and Republican don’t always mean the same thing, any more than liberal, left-wing, and Democratic do. I sometimes use them interchangeably when writing a post like this, though.

      As for the pro-life thing, it’s not that I don’t see the difference, but rather that: 1) a pro-life stance is traditionally opposed to both abortion and the death penalty, and 2) I don’t know that it’s been associated with any particular political stance until fairly recently.

      • There is an issue of ethics and morals to consider when you start talking pro-life/pro-war/pro-death penalty.

        The first one is not moral, not in my view at least, the second two are.

        I had no inkling that a “traditional” pro-life stance was also anti-death penalty. Where did you get that information? I’d be interested to read it.
        I see the two issues as entirely separate and so my views on one have no bearing on the other. The are individual ethical conundrums.

      • Nathan says:

        I seem to have heard that before, but maybe that’s just in Catholicism.

  2. Pingback: All Take and No Giving | VoVatia

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