A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Likely U.S. Voters prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes over one with more services and higher taxes. That’s unchanged from last month and consistent with findings in regular surveys since late 2006.
In fact, a plurality of Americans have called for small government and lower taxes ever since the days of Reagan.
But it has never worked out like that:
So what’s the difference? Is it that voters outwardly claim to be in favour of smaller government, and then when it comes down to it choose the advocates of big government? I don’t think so — I think it is that voters aren’t being given a real choice.
Here’s the increase in national debt by President:
The reality is that — with the exception of Obama — Americans have again and again opted for a candidate who has paid lip-service to small government. Even Bill Clinton paid lip service to the idea that “the era of big government is over” (yeah, right). And then once in office, they have bucked their promises and massively increased the size and scope of government. Reagan’s administration increased the debt by 190% alone, and successive Presidents — especially George W. Bush and Barack Obama — just went bigger and bigger, in total contradiction to voters’ expressed preferences.
The choice between the Republicans and Democrats has been one of rhetoric and not policy. Republicans may consistently talk about reducing the size and scope of government, but they don’t follow through.Today Ron Paul, the only Republican candidate who is putting forth a seriously reduced notion of government, has been marginalised and sidelined by the major media and Republican establishment. The establishment candidate — Mitt Romney — as governor of Massachusetts left that state with the biggest per-capita debt of any state. His track record in government and his choice of advisers strongly suggest that he will follow in the George W. Bush school of promising smaller government and delivering massive government and massive debt.
As Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson put it:
Pick Obama, pick Romney, government’s going to be bigger. Government’s going to be more intrusive.
So will the American people eventually get what they want? To do that, they have to ditch the hierarchies and orthodoxies of the past. Ron Paul and his tireless band of youthful supporters look set to achieve a strong showing at the Republican convention, as well as so far winning party chairs in Iowa, Colorado, Alaska, and Virginia. The Republican party — currently dominated by ageing tax-and-spend boomer Republicans — is being taken over by the libertarian youth who crave small government at home, as well as a smaller foreign policy. Ron Paul has taken the majority of youth votes in a plurality of states in 2012. And even if Ron Paul is not on the presidential ballot, Gary Johnson — a consistent advocate for lower debt, lower taxes, and smaller government — seems set to take a large slice of the vote in November.
As the mainstream parties continue to defy a majority of voters’ will and accrue more debt and make government bigger and bigger (while failing to address problems of unemployment and underemployment) it seems natural and inevitable that more and more Americans — especially young Americans (who tend more and more to be unemployed and underemployed) — will abandon the sclerotic big-government Republicans and Democrats.
Trouble is, things may go badly wrong before Americans get the chance to put a practitioner of smaller government into power. Already a majority of Eurasian manufacturing and resource-producing nations have ditched the dollar for bilateral trade. Dollars and treasury bonds have long been America’s greatest export — and the greatest pillar of support for growth in spending and welfare. With the dollar’s downfall, smaller government may not be a choice.