It doesn’t surprise many of us that confidence in government is so low during the presidency of a committed progressive, Mr. Obama, whose faith in government appears boundless and whose tenure has been marked by rank incompetence and seen the size and reach of the federal government reach unprecedented levels. The temptation for conservatives will be to take advantage of and build on this widespread distrust, to dial up their anti-government rhetoric, and to continue to focus solely on what government should not be doing.
But as I have argued before (here and here), such an exclusively negative approach to the question of the role of government is not only electorally insufficient; it is unbecoming of conservatism and of the deep commitment that conservatives claim to the nation’s founding ideals.
The way to both re-limit and improve government lies with structural reforms–to our tax code; our entitlement, health-care, and anti-poverty programs; our immigration and elementary, secondary, and higher-education systems; and the energy and financial sector. The fact that government is held in contempt by so many Americans ought to trouble all of us, including conservatives; and making our government one we can once again be proud of ought to be our object and aim. Government is, after all, “the offspring of our own choice,” in the words of Washington, and should have “a just claim to [our] confidence and [our] support.”