Reflections on Government
|Mary Wakefield Buxton|
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— The longer I live, the more I see how alike people are. Yet, people are different, too. We have different political opinions rooted in individual life experiences.
Take a major block of Americans that I define as freedom-loving “rugged individualists.” They are highly autonomous and prone to risk taking. They believe (rightly or wrongly) they can do anything if given opportunity. If they fail, they hop right back up and try again. No moping about the house, feeling sorry for themselves from this group. They take responsibility for their own lives and don’t want help from anyone. They are classically identified with the world-renowned term “Yankee can-do ingenuity.” This group has provided millions of jobs for others over the years to enrich the lives of many.
Do such citizens want big government dictating and regulating what they can and cannot do in life? Do they want hand-outs from government? Do they want to be told how to live their life by well-meaning bureaucrats determined to take care of them, every step of the way from birth to death? Indeed, they do not.
Others want close supervision and don’t cringe at the thought of dependency. They need government that watches over them, cares for them, and protects them from harm.
Mayor Bloomberg of NYC is an example of such government. He recently tried to protect New Yorkers from drinking too much sweet soda by trying to outlaw “big gulp” drinks for fear people are too weak-willed or stupid to limit intake themselves.
Perhaps the remainder of the population could be defined as a mix of “In-betweens” and “Undecided,” who possibly can be persuaded to vote for big government if they see an advantage for themselves.
Such groups aren’t new to this world. There have been cries of “Leave me alone, I can do it myself!” or “Help, take care of me!” regarding government since the beginning of time.
The problem magnifies when groups block out, demonize or ignore the needs of other groups or, even worse, try to force their kind of government on others.
Two questions to consider are: Can government serve the needs of all groups or is it destined to be controlled by one group at the others’ expense? Can government allow those who want freedom to take care of themselves, to do so?
In a checkout line recently, I overheard a conversation concerning a government agency that had taken an infant from a local family because the parent was smoking cigarettes (which would harm the baby).
“That’s reprehensible that in America government can come into a man’s home and take away his child,” I said.
“You don’t know how bad things are in some parts of Middlesex County,” a woman answered. “Someone has to watch out for children.” She was grateful intervention was available.
To this woman, strong government was necessary. She was not interested in my argument for constitutional rights. Our contrasting ideas were a microcosm of the larger debate in Washington.
Society is polarized today, but America can create a way to help citizens in need without demolishing individual responsibility, freedom and opportunity for others.
My greatest fear for the future is dependency may become contagious and that numbers of those supported by government will grow (along with the size of government).
Less political polarization from our leaders would encourage more understanding and tolerance. More compromise in order to create government that serves all people (and not just one group) is very much needed.