This is what limited government looks like

  • 4 March 2016
  • NormanL
This is what limited government looks like

Jeffrey Tucker offers an antidote, of sorts, to the anxiety and emotionalism surrounding the presidential race. What if government was so small, its powers restricted to the letter of the Constitution, that it didn't matter who called the White House home?

Limited government means that, no matter how bad a person is who holds office, he or she lacks the tools necessary to inflict great damage on the population.

Under a small government with limited and well-defined powers, Americans are safer, not because a “good guy” won the election, but because the institutions he or she controls cannot be used as tools of oppression. This is what the old liberals meant when they spoke of "a government of laws and not of men."

There is a sense, then, that when we talk about how grim the policies of a Trump or Sanders or Rubio or Hillary or whomever would be, we are not getting to the core of the problem. We should not have to worry about the character or ambitions of the person we elect. A good system of government is one that is protected against control by wicked people. It should even be protected against good people who want to use state power to realize noble ideals. Government should be impervious to the personal zeal of its temporary managers.


Under such a system, we would have fewer hysterics from both right and left demanding that power be used for this group and against that one. You can scream all you want, but it has no more effect than yelling at the paint on the wall to change color. This is what it means to live under rules rather than arbitrary dictates.

An unreachable, even unrealistic, goal? Perhaps. But even the smallest steps taken toward limiting government power bring us closer to the day when we no longer need to wring our hands over who is the least worst choice for office.