POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Government is not the Solution to our Problem; Government is the Problem

by David Trumbull -- January 28, 2011

We stand between two notable dates in 20th Century American history. Eight days after January 20th—the 30th anniversary of the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s first term as President, and eight days before February 6th—the centenary of Mr. Reagan’s birth.

When President Reagan took office our nation was in a bad way. Decades of liberal Democratic policies (that the “me-too” Republicans of the day did not effective rebut) had brought us high taxes, even higher spending, neglect of our national defense, and lack of self-assurance on the world stage. We were in a serious recession with both high unemployment and high inflation. We failed to support our allies in the world, and our own citizens were held hostage by a fanatical dictator in Iran. At such a time, President Reagan delivered his celebrated First Inaugural Address. I quote freely from it, as my words cannot compare with his perfect phrases.

From President Reagan’s First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people.

For anyone who lived through that time and saw how President Reagan—even with a Democratic majority in the House and, for most of his tenure, in the Senate—restored America to greatness, it is dismaying to see that we are right back where we were in 1980. Out of control spending in Washington has brought us to the brink of national ruin. The central government continues its attacks on the states and individuals. Increasing, we are no longer citizens of a free republic but the subjects of a political over-class in Washington. We neglect our historic friendships with the free nations of the world while our President bows to dictators.

Oh, for another Ronald Reagan!

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]