Given the gross expansion of the federal government under the Bush administration, I daresay that both Reagan and Goldwater are likely spinning in their graves.
State power, considered in the abstract, need not restrict freedom: but absolute state power always does. The legitimate functions of government are actually conductive to freedom. Maintaining internal order, keeping foreign foes at bay, administeringBozell (Goldwater's ghostwriter) goes on to mention a tale of Benjamin Franklin who when asked by a woman what the government had given her. Franklin's repsonse was, "a republic. If you can keep it."
justice, removing obstacles to the free interchange of goods—the exercise of these powers makes it possible for men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum freedom. But note that the very instrument by which these desirable ends are achieved can be the instrument for achieving undesirable ends—that government can, instead of extending freedom, restrict freedom. And note, secondly, that the “can” quickly becomes “will” the moment the holders of government power are left to their own devices. This is because of the corrupting influence of power, the natural tendency of men who possess some power to take unto themselves more power. The tendency leads eventually to the acquisition of all power—whether in the hands of one or many makes little difference to the freedom of those left on the outside.--from The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry M. Goldwater
The trouble is that we haven't kept it. Through a generally lax and loose interpretation of the Constitution, the power of the Federal government has grown so far out of control that we HAVEN'T kept it. And the more power we cede to the government the more we become servants of the government-- when the government is supposed to be the servant of the people, not the ruler of the people.
I realize that my fellow Americans want college educations, affordable health care, we all want to be able to retire and not have to be greeters at Wal-Mart when we're in our twilight years. But in asking our government to guarantee these things to us, in asking politicians to promise these things to us we're forfeiting our right to self-determination? If we grant our government the right to create a National Health Care system similar to that of England or Canada, are we also granting them the right to determine who is and isn't eligible to receive this health care?
Granting the government these powers is based on an assumption, a very dangerous and flawed assumption at that, that our government can and will act in our best interests. And maybe if the US Government had a history of doing just that, acting in our best interests, rather than acting in the best interests of lobbyists and special interests-- then maybe more Americans would be open to the idea of a federalized health care system.
Right now, not only is Bush's approval rating in the toilet-- the approval rating of the US Congress is actually LOWER than that of our president. Congress is Democratically controlled, the executive branch is Republican controlled. The point being is that government corruption and ineptitude knows no party lines-- despite the media's best efforts to paint the corruption and ineptitude of our government along party lines and to further foster the ever-growing divisiveness of our country.
Goldwater/Bozell go on to say:
The system of restraints has fallen into disrepair. The federal government has moved into every field in which it believes its services are needed. The state governments are either excluded from their rightful functions by federal preemption, or they are allowed to act at the sufferance of the federal government.You see, in the Civil War, the south was at least partially right. Rights not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution fell to the individual states to determine. The fatal flaw the Confederacy made was in believing that a gross human rights violation such as slavery was within their "states rights" (human bondage is not now, nor has it ever been anyone's right-- individual, local, state, or federal for that matter) However today, the federal government has exercised an increasingly alarming amount of power over its citizenry "in our best interests." But, do you honestly believe the Federal government has any grasp whatsoever of what our best interests are?
Inside the federal government both the executive and judicial branches have roamed far outside their constitutional boundary lines. And all of these things have come to pass without regard to the amendment procedures prescribed by Article V. The result is a Leviathan, a vast national authority out of touch with the people, and out of their control. This monolith of power is bounded only by the will of those who sit in high places.
And now we have 3 candidates remaining in the race for president and I'm not sure any of them would be prone to reduce the power of the federal government; to give the American people back what is rightfully ours-- the freedom to govern ourselves.
In short, I'm still waiting for the candidate described by Goldwater that is willing to say the following (or some semblance thereof):
“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”Am I waiting in vain? Are my hopes too audacious?