Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Debunking the myth of the ‘small government’ Republican

The Republican Party – they’re from the government and they’re here to hurt.  

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on “Fox News Sunday” last week to discuss his proposal for a federal ban on getting an abortion after 15 weeks. Graham’s proposal immediately drew the ire of Democrats and those on the left, but he also received criticism from his fellow Republicans.  

Why did his political allies criticize him? Because of the timing, of course! 

See, the midterms are coming up, and the Republican party’s draconian views on abortion policy are unpopular with voters. Fox host Shannon Bream censured Graham on the timing of his bill, saying it might negatively impact Republican performance in the November midterm elections.  

Graham’s bill and its reaction from Republicans gives the game away. For all their excessive talk about their belief in “small government,” in reality, they love the boot. They love a strong government to do their bidding – their frequent denunciations of so-called “big government” are betrayed by their actual policy pursuits.  

[Related: OPINION: Indiana Attorney General Rokita talks protecting individual liberties yet is against abortion]

Take former President Ronald Reagan, someone emblematic of limited-government conservatism. In his inaugural address, Reagan famously said “Government is the problem.” And in his farewell address, he said, “Man is not free unless government is limited.”  

But what did he actually do in between those two speeches? Under Reagan, the amount of government employees actually increased and military spending exploded in the name of fighting communism. It has, of course, never been explained how the American people have benefitted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  

And for the 12 people in America who actually care about the national debt, under Reagan the debt almost tripled, from $907 billion to $2.6 trillion in eight years.  

Thirteen years after Reagan left office, former President George W. Bush picked up where Republican hypocrisy left off. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 gave the Republicans a golden opportunity to massively increase the powers of the state, all in the name of counter-terrorism.  

Just 45 days after 9/11, Bush signed into law the Patriot Act, which made it much easier for the government to spy on Americans. The Patriot Act gave the government greater authority to monitor phone calls and emails, collect bank and credit reporting records and track Americans’ internet activity.  

Whether its anti-abortion laws or expanding the surveillance state, the Republican party laughs in the face of small-government principles and creeps further into the personal lives of the American people.  

But perhaps it could be argued Republicans at least believe in little government intervention in the economy. In response to this I would scoff. And after I scoffed, I would point to the Trump administration putting up trade barriers, fighting a tariff war with China and, in the process, hurting the economy.  

Trump’s trade war with China cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for American companies.  

Trump loved the powers of the government, using them to pointlessly fight China, put children into cages and discriminate against transgender people.  

[Related: OPINION: Trans people aren't new, and they aren't going anywhere]

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my positions on any of this. I don’t believe either the Democrats or the Republicans believe in a small government, and I certainly don’t believe in it. If I had my way, many of the industries currently in private hands would be nationalized immediately.  

But above all, I hate hypocrisy. Republicans have shown time and time again that they want a strong government – they just want it to bend to their whims. They don’t want the government to help poor or marginalized people, and they truly have hacked away at government regulations designed to do just that.  

Instead, they want the government to have the power to criminalize abortions, gay marriage and transgender existence. They want the government to engage in protectionist trade policies at home and military terror abroad. Republicans love, more than anything, a big government – and they want to use it against you. 

Jared Quigg (he/him) is a junior studying journalism and political science.

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