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December 2015 Brief: Volume 22, Number 34

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Great Men Support Limited Government


by Jerry Hopkins



Historian Paul Johnson in Modern Times has suggested that the “age of politics” is drawing to a close. The twentieth century witnessed the efforts of government, statism in all its forms from fascism to socialism, to create “a Great Society,” resulting only in deeper and more profound problems. Historian Johnson is right in his analysis of the last century. Politicians have heralded that the “era of big government is over” and with the next breath have suggested even more government programs, regulations, taxes, and solutions. From Theodore Roosevelt to the present, under both Democrats and Republicans, the government has steadily grown larger and larger, more expensive and expansive. It was Lyndon B. Johnson who advocated the importance of a “Great Society,” and the end of poverty only to promote more government bureaucracy and increasing taxation and regulation, resulting in more poverty, welfare, and slums.


Our Founding Fathers had a very different view of our government than most have today. Thomas Jefferson was one of Thomas Jeffersonour greatest leaders and thinkers. He defined good government as that “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” It is bad government that intrudes into the lives of the citizens, imposing unnecessary and intrusive regulations that ultimately cost all of us.


Government is necessary, but its role should not restrict and restrain the individuals and companies from pursuing legitimate, civilized, and socially-enhancing goals. Our present leadership, both Democrat and Republican, has continued to take more and spend more, leading us deeper and deeper into debt and binding government regulations that are harming our economic recovery and political conservatism.


A person who visits Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Virginia, will notice the lasting imprint of this great man on our nation, society, and culture. He has left us with an enduring legacy that we dare not forsake or devalue. We need more leaders with the genius, intellect, and convictions of Jefferson. Jefferson is just one of many of our founding fathers who have left us a legacy of profound ideas and strategies which we need to learn more about.


We need to return to the wisdom and principles of the great men in the past who have led our nation. I’m not suggesting that we drive into the future looking in the rearview mirror! What I am suggesting is that we should not give in to cynicism and pessimism in this time when things have dipped so low in morals and morale in the nation. There are some great men in our past and there are some great men in the present. There are some good men who are working to bring our country to better times and better principles. Of this we can be sure — the less government in the future, the better government — and the better society — will be. A good government is that which frees people to be their best, to do their best, and to improve continually. We need the inspiration of great men to become better in what we are and do as a people.


This is what institutions of higher education aim toward — helping students become better, to succeed in their chosen professions and to become more productive citizens. Our goal is to impart knowledge and wisdom. We are committed to the people, to bring education to the “grassroots,” and to become the inspiration for as many people as we can. We need an educated electorate who understand what is happening. We need to understand the difference between leftist ideology and conservative ideas. We need to recognize the direction of our country and join together to limit government, restore constitutional principles, and reject the statist tendencies of our executive, judicial, and legislative leadership.

An important part of this process is joining together in a “community conversation” about the issues, ideas, and leadership that can reverse some of the patterns dominating at present. We must resist the lies and leftist ideas that have come to us from both Democrats and Republicans. Both groups have not told us the truth about what is happening. The leaders have exempted themselves from what they are imposing on the rest of us, including ObamaCare, foreign policy, illegal aliens, and higher taxes. We need to reject the normal political and social rhetoric propagated by the left-wing media and refuse “politics as usual” as pushed by both political parties.


Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a professor and historian living in Marshall, TX.


Permission to reprint or copy in whole or part is granted, provided a version of this credit line is used:"Reprinted by permission from INSTITUTE BRIEF, a publication of Public Interest Institute." The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of Public Interest Institute. They are brought to you in the interest of a better-informed citizenry.




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