(My Clovis News Journal column for June 27, 2014)
The siren songs of the next election season are already tickling your ears. One thing I notice a lot of people advocating is a "return to the Constitution" which they believe would bring back "limited government".
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it didn't work before, so how do you plan to make it work next time?
If the majority of people in the past weren't willing to force the State to operate strictly by the Constitution, what makes you believe "enough" people now or in the future will be willing- or able? Even Thomas Jefferson failed when given the choice to uphold the Constitution or go through with the Louisiana Purchase.
The attempt to "limit" government has failed every time it has been tried. It's like trying to decide how much cancer to leave in the patient, and telling the tumor to limit itself while hoping it will get no larger.
As has been observed throughout history, those who gain political power will do anything to hold on to it, and get more. They change the rules they can change; ignore the rules they can't. Since the only people given authority to stop or punish the miscreants belong to the same gang- the government- and have the same addiction, nothing substantive happens even when they get caught.
By promising to share the spoils with voters, they'll keep getting elected by people who don't want to take away their political power, or stop the over-reach, because they know it would end the goodies.
Both "liberals" and "conservatives" lure voters with treats, but of somewhat different flavors.
"Liberals", as a general rule, use things like free food, cell phones, free medical care, and disability entitlements to inspire voter loyalty, while "conservatives" use military jobs, protection from foreigners, farm subsidies, and "law and order" to bribe their constituents. Both sides encourage fears of the other side, and both promise to keep the Social Security pyramid scheme propped up at all costs. In recent years there has been other "bipartisanship" working against you, too.
None of those things are constitutional, but no politician is willing to face the wrath of those who have become dependent on the State, or those who are scared to let the free market find solutions. Once anything is socialized, people assume only the State can handle it.
"Limited government" is a Utopian dream; completely divorced from reality.
Am I claiming a strictly constitutional government wouldn't be better than the runaway monstrosity America is suffocating under now? Of course not. But keeping it would require changing human nature, and it would still be only the beginning of any real, lasting, solution.