Big Government Is Good- When It Does What YOU Want

The Hypocrisy is Palpable

First, Let’s Admit a Near Universal Truth

I know you will be shocked to hear this, but hypocrisy is rather common within our species. It can be especially virulent among our political class. All those old aphorisms about “watch what they do, not what they say,” “power corrupts,” and similar sayings are true pretty much across the board.

People change their tunes when circumstances or opportunity calls upon them. While this is a near universal truth, the scope and depth of such hypocrisy within the Republican party today is unique, at least in modern history. When one looks at the track record, it really is not possible to conclude anything other than power counts and not much else matters.

Not a fair assessment? Let’s take a look.

Once Upon a Time in the Republican Party…

For most of my lifetime, the Republican party had platforms and principles that were clear, consistent, and reasoned (even those I disagreed with, which were many). They were almost always pro-business. Nominally that meant pro small business; more often it really has meant big business, but at whatever scale, pro business. Sometimes their legislative agenda was contrary to good business outcomes, but the principle was generally adhered to by the party.

It has always been a mantra that the smaller and less intrusive government the better. Government should have a limited role whenever possible, in all areas and at all levels. Maximize the opportunities for individual freedom of decision and action. Avoid regulation – almost always.

Deficits were always a terrible thing, to be avoided at every opportunity. Minimizing them was best accomplished by cutting costs and expenses, not raising revenue (usually taxes). The rhetoric around the sin of deficits has always been loud, long, and consistent.

In short, a reasonably consistent world view and set of values, from which priorities and programs evolved. Today, however, there have been some changes. Republicans of an earlier era would surely not recognize what used to be their political party. They also could not get elected in their own party.

Now, Apparently, Big Government is BAD If…
  • It places the most basic steps toward public medical safety (masks, inoculations, crowd limitations) over individual choice. The idea of the Common Good seems incomprehensible to these folks.
  • It attempts to regulate in any way shape or form gun ownership – by anyone. On the terrorist watch list? No problem? Have a history of mental illness/spousal abuse/ violence? Forget about it! Somehow the idea that everyone has every right to own just about any weapon they desire is a near religious tenant. No degree of common sense or scale of possibilities is possible. The fact that our murder and suicide rates far exceed everyone else’s – thanks to guns – seems a mystery that cannot be solved.
  • It seeks to rebalance any excesses that under regulated capitalism will always generate over time. Income equality at obscene levels would appear to be a God given right. A decent and automatically scaled minimum wage is interfering with free enterprise. Bad government!

And so it goes, in a myriad of other areas and examples.

 It Would Seem Big Government is GOOD If…
  • If that powerful government gets into your doctor’s office and dictates that you must complete a pregnancy and bring a new human being into your life for decades.
  • Government can enter your bedroom and decide with whom you sleep.
  • If government shall dictate that all school curriculums must follow the mandates of a small minority of people who cannot and will not deal with history honestly. Not to mention evolution or the most basic climate science.
  • OK If government can try to punish private sector companies that express concern over some government decision.
  • If government can make it hard for “those people” to vote. Voter fraud is not a problem – period. Minority voting apparently is a problem, and these folks have a solution in mind.

    And on it goes, in one subject area after another. Powerful, intrusive government is a good thing when I can use it to further what I want.
 A Simple Observation About Values vs Priorities

 I have often, not always but often, disagreed with Republican principles and priorities over the years. That is a normal and healthy thing in a democracy. But over the last few years, I find there are no values, no principles, no matters of moral and political substance to engage over. The Republican party has not had a platform nor a legislative agenda for the better part of a decade.

Think of that. One of two national parties sees no utility or value in stating clearly what it stands for and how it would govern. It exists only to regain/hold political power, to constantly agitate its base, and to criticize anything and everything done by the other party. There has been no evidence of seriousness about governing for a very long time.

This slide into hypocrisy and playing to an increasingly extreme base began with Regan and has gathered steam ever since then. Klan members, QANON followers, race haters, conspiracy theorists – these are now the main-stream elements of a once great political party.

Mix all this in with the power of social media and the information bubbles so many of us now live in and you can see the fundamental danger to democracy. No future is assured. Someone once said that democracies are not stolen – they are more often given away.


This is being published on primary voting day in my state. As we move through the primaries, the general elections, and the national election in 2024, what future shall we choose? Will we ignore who did what around January 6 2021? Will we hold accountable a group with no foundations and no reason to trust them with anything?

I wonder.

       Bill Clontz

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