I Say “Limited Government,” They Hear “Anti-Government”

I do not consider the libertarian or true conservative movement to be inherently anti-government. But according to a growing number of “progressives,” anyone who seeks to limit the federal government’s regulations and interventions is automatically “anti-government.” You’ll notice that any gridlock in Congress is considered an evil: Democrats will accuse Constitutionalists of “keeping the government from functioning.” I noticed this recently in an article on a biography of moneyed conservatives, most particularly the Koch brothers:

Ms. Mayer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, presents the Kochs and other families as the hidden and self-interested hands behind the rise and growth of the modern conservative movement. Philanthropists and political donors who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into think tanks, political organizations and scholarships, they helped win acceptance for anti-government and anti-tax policies that would protect their businesses and personal fortunes, she writes, all under the guise of promoting the public interest.

Did you notice it? It was subtle perhaps, but quite significant. Being against new/more/heavy taxes and against big/tyrannical/interventionist government is considered “anti-tax” and “anti-government.” Why is this significant? Not because I have any great love for or desire to protect the Koch brothers. The main issue here is that we are entering a time when resisting even the slightest government whim is blithely compared to anarchy and treason. Do you remember another time in American history when that was the case?

Perhaps the American War for Independence? Note that at first, American patriots were doing what they could to legislate peace in the colonies. But when American goals diverged more and more from the goals of Great Britain, all of the attempts by patriots to use the rule of law failed. More and more, they were accused of being “against the King.” In other words, their attempts to limit government were viewed as “anti-government” actions. Eventually, it came to war. It couldn’t do much else.

Are we headed for a similar impasse? The scenario is certainly similar. The only difference is that our self-interested monarchy already lives on our own soil. I don’t know how much longer words will suffice for them.