The conventional wisdom has settled on the subject of this year’s presidential campaign: it’s about the proper role of government in our nation’s life.
This is a good argument to have, but don’t expect it to be resolved by the election. Americans have been debating the question since before the Constitution was drawn up, and we haven’t come to terms on it yet.
At the moment, we have got a Republican challenger who embraces the conservative conviction that government must be as limited as possible. In this view, much of what government spends is wasted; Ronald Reagan’s comment, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is our problem,” is its mantra. Conservatives want to reduce regulation, make cutting taxes the highest priority, propose handing Medicaid and other responsibilities to the states as block grants, and consider a more active government the wrong answer in almost every case.