In keeping with the spirit of the Fourth of July, I got to thinking about our government. For years, conservative politicians and pundits have talked about government being the problem. Government is in the way, too intrusive, controlling and so forth.
I thought to look back over our history. I wanted to see where government has been the problem. I didn’t find many.
Now sure, people can talk about the CIA spying on citizens, government regulations getting in the way of business and so on. Yet, overall, I’ve seen our government do an awful lot of good things.
The Continental Congress declared us independent from Great Britain. That was risky; some called it foolhardy and even insane. The men who made that decision were rich and powerful, and could have stayed that way had they maintained the status quo. They chose to “brave the storm in a skiff made of paper,” as John Hancock said. Talk about taking a chance!
I’d say it worked out pretty good.
Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory. Some thought that insane, or at least exceeding his Constitutional authority. It worked out pretty good. Later, we bought Alaska. It was “Seward’s Folly” because he was the US Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase. The check was for just over seven million dollars, about two cents an acre and roundly criticized as being something the nation shouldn’t bother with and couldn’t afford; it was still re-building from the devastation of the Civil War. Think of the gold and oil that found there.
I guess history would judge that a good deal.
The Republican Party formed to abolish slavery; that was one of the tenets of their party: think about what that meant, at that time. Slavery was an integral part of the entire economy of the southern United States and a political party was calling for its end! Boy, talk about a risky view for government officials to hold.
I’d say that one worked out real good!
The US Government built the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam, during the Great Depression, and the interstate highway system. It put a man is space, landed several on the moon, sent probes to the other planets, and even got a couple out of the solar system!
Has it made mistakes? Yeah, of course, who did not? After all, nobody is perfect, and the government is made up of us, “We the People.” My dad always told me there was a reason that word, People, took a capital letter. It was proudly proclaiming to the world – a world ruled by kings, emperors, Kaisers, and other absolute rulers; that ours was a nation where the people ruled.
American Exceptionalism is the belief that America is great, and I believe that. Yet, we define our greatness by our actions or by our history? Any nation that looks to its past for its greatest deeds will see its future fade.
Now, I’m no advocate for government control of everything; communism is a failed political system, as far as I’m concerned. We need government for some things. There are some things that will never be profitable, never be the sorts of things that only business can handle. Call it what you wish: social justice, a social safety net or whatever word you choose. The point is I would rather trust my healthcare to a government official than an insurance company adjuster. Yeah, maybe the former will be a pinhead jerk that I have to fight with to get a test or treatment approved, but the desire to reduce costs, my healthcare, in order to maximize profits motivates companies.
Government is not always the problem. It takes wisdom and common sense to strike a balance to its reach and limits. The question is do we have those attributes?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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