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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why conservatives believe in smaller government

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan had an insightful column last week in the Wall Street Journal. In the column, she makes the following salient points about the liberal and the conservative political views of government as well as a cautionary note about what kind of conservatives we don't need as elected leaders:

I believe liberals in fact enjoy the complexity, not only because they love government--love to obsess on it, and think it is the last best hope of man on Earth--but because complexity justifies big government. Big complex question. Big complex response. Laws and rumors of laws.

Conservatives don't live for government and don't love it, either. They like other things. They think government is a necessity and a potential evil. This is because they know human nature, and they know humans run governments. Ergo extremely flawed and even damaged people are governing us. Ergo don't give them a big sandbox to play in; keep it as small as possible. That way their depredations will be, by definition, limited.

This point of view--humans are imperfect, governments even more so--is not inherently pessimistic but rather optimistic about other things: life, faith, relationships, gardens. A conservative politician who does not enjoy gardening, reading, taking a walk or seeing a play more than governing is a human warning sign: Don't go there.

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