In a conversation with another conservative last weekend, the topic came around to the strange interpretations of certain conservative phrases and their meanings.
I shared the story that back in 2011, while working on redistricting, I was asked by a Republican why the qualifier, "constitutional" was put in front of the word conservative to describe certain people on the right.
He said, "we are all for the constitution, so what's the difference?" In response, I said that the constitution describes the limits of the federal government, and that constitutional conservatives point out that the federal government is way too large and that the founders warned against a government too large to allow for personal liberty.
My Republican friend just stared at me, obviously not understanding the concept.
After relaying my story, my conservative friend remarked in complete agreement, "I know what you mean! Do you realize what Frank (fictional name) thinks limited government means? He thinks it means limiting the number of bureaucratic agencies into larger ones that cover all of the different control aspects under one big roof."
I thought to myself, "Isn't that what President Obama said back in December? He wants to consolidate agencies into bigger ones?" Indeed he did say so. CNS News reported that Obama wants to "reorganize" government in the next three years, into a "21st century federal government."
"And the -- the challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization. It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier, which is we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly. We have got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways, whether it's helping to finance them, helping them to export." Obama said.
He added, "And so, if you're a small business person getting started, you may think you need to go to the Small Business Administration on one thing, you have got to go to Commerce on another. So, we have proposed, let's consolidate a bunch of that stuff."
I brought this up in a previous column, because I could see how people might take his seeming attempt at efficiency as a way to deflect against the charge that he expanded government so outrageously over the past five years. And here you go, not only does a faction of the Republican Party believe that's what limited government means, but imagine, while the Republican and Democrat Party are smearing the tea party for being "anti-government," in rides Obama, stealing our phrase and slapping a foreign definition on it.
We have to get this straight. Limited government doesn't mean reducing the number of agencies so that all the agency's names can appear on one page double-spaced unless and until we reduce the federal government's role in our every day lives. That means letting Americans be exceptional.
The EPA alone has issued outrageous rulings that affect our every day lives, from our washing machine to our water use, how we heat our homes and how fossil fuels are extracted from the earth. They alone count for massive economic disruption, losses in the billions of private sector business for the hoops they make people jump through, but worst of all, loss of what could be, but for them.
We aren't limiting government by adding, say, the Department of Energy in with the EPA, though they seem to overlap now, adding the EPA's 17,000 employees with the DoE's 13,000 employees to make a super department of 30,000 employees and probably more to help coordinate everything, are we? We would be limiting government by defunding both of them and leaving the authority to the States, which have similar departments, and allow the 30,000 employees of the federal government to join the private sector, where they can feel the reality of building things and making stuff and earning an honest living.
Of course it doesn't sound like a fun thing to do, but doing the right thing is never popular, fun, or immediately rewarding, that's why so few politicians even entertain the thought, yet it must be done if we are to be free.
More people must adopt the attitude, "Who do you think you are?" toward the federal government. This is a real test of the American people. Will we remember that we are free only when government is limited, or will we dutifully join the rest of the sheep?
The sinister use of language by political manipulators like Obama should frighten us because although we know the meanings of the phrases used in birthing this great nation, too many people have been under-educated and will accept the wrong meaning if it is the first time they've been offered any meaning at all.
And what we need to start asking is, are Americans stupid, or are they under-educated because of the federal government's intrusion in education? Are Americans lazy or are they unable to find jobs because the federal government is stopping business from doing business? Are Americans suffering under the delusion that they are still free without even fighting for it, or are we not sufficiently ticked off yet?
We can't be free unless we limit government, and no one is going to fight for our freedoms for us.