“Big Government”

Is “big government,” deployed disparagingly, a term of which members of big government are especially fond? It seems that way.

I assume that “big government” and/or terms similar to it have been around in many languages for as long as governments have been with us.

The term seems to be a staple of the GOP’s vocabulary, from which some Democrats often poach. It was also a favorite of Ronald Reagan’s,although he pronounced it something like “big gub-ment,” especially when he slid into his slightly folksy rhetoric. Clinton tended to drop the g from -ing words and use expressions like “that dog won’t hunt” when he decided to get folksy. Reagan seemed to become more Midwestern and avuncular, as in “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall,” which had the folksy ring of “Mr. Smith, repair your fence.” Both Reagan and Clinton knew how to calibrate their rhetoric for a situation that seemed to call for folksiness, however.

In any event, whenever someone who occupies a position in the federal government speaks of “big government,” one has to be amused. For example, Ron Paul seems so unamused by “big government” that you’d think he might act on his convictions and resign from big government.

I sense that a “big government” program is any program one opposes, whereas a program one likes (perhaps because it delivers pork to one’s turf) is, by definition, not a “big government” program but a “necessary” program.

When was the U.S. fated to have a “big government”? Opinions vary, I’m sure. When it established a massive cotton-producing economy based on the slave-trade? When it completed the Louisiana Purchase? When it stretched from Atlantic to Pacific and completed a national railroad?

Once we get to 1945, at the latest, there is no turning back from “big government.” Protestations to the contrary, both major political parties are heavily invested in big government, so I do wish their members would stop wielding the term, “big government,” as if they were opposed to b.g.

By the way, there is a site called http://biggovernment.com/, “brought to” us by Andrew Breitbart. Unfortunately, it seems simply to parrot GOP views, such as those expressed by Palin and Krauthammer. I did, however, see an interesting pairing of advertisements, one for an Ann Coulter blog and one promising to discuss the symptoms of colitis in some detail.


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