Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.
What Kind of Government Is the United States of America?
It's important to understand that we are not a democracy, but rather a representative republic. We are also called constitutional republics, as well as a democratic republic, which means that although we each get a vote, each state has representatives that "represent" our votes. A representative republic is different than a democracy, where each vote would have equal weight, and there would be less room for checks and balances. In the United States, this prevents from densely populated areas to rule over more rural areas, where they have different needs and sometimes values.
It is also essential to understand that very few countries are strictly one type of government. Most monarchies today are representative governments. Even the United States is not strictly a representative government. In many ways, we have aspects of a command government, more popularly known as a socialist government. For instance, we provide social security for specific individuals who are considered in need. We also offer government ran healthcare, although not exclusively.
It seems like there is always a debate on whether the government should be more involved or less involved in various areas, and with each switch in Presidents, it appears that this debate gets more and more polarized, often blindly so. Few knowing why they believe what they believe, except that their candidate of choice supports it. So how involved should a government be?
What Is a Limited Government and Does the United States Have One?
Limited government is a government that gives rights to the individual without over-governing the population. In many ways, this is a subjective term. Constitutional governments often work at securing these rights. Since the United States is, in fact, a constitutional republic, by nature, it does have a limited government. However, the government is slowly becoming less and less limited and growing bigger.
There are certain rights that the Constitution does protect. We have freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion. We are innocent until proven guilty. Certain powers are given to the states rather than the federal government. Unfortunately, many of these rights are crossing some gray areas. Facebook is a privately owned company and not government-run. Therefore, it can be argued that they should have the right to censor what is shared. Others will say that they do not have the right since there is freedom of speech.
How the New Deal Impacted a Limited Government
Franklin D. Roosevelt was facing tough times during World War II, and his plan to help our country through a series of programs he called the New Deal. The New Deal is responsible for Social Security, along with many other programs that helped out those in financial hardship. Some of these programs, like Social Security, are still around today, while others were short-term fixes.
Although some of this was necessary, this also caused the government's control to grow. The more programs the government has to help, the more say the government has on an individual's life. So we need to know what we agree to when we decide to have the government assist us through hard times. The government grew again in the sixties when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted.
We could debate all day about whether we should have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or even other government programs like ObamaCare. There are people in need, and we need to help them. When should the government get involved, and how can we help people most efficiently? This is a great question, especially in light, by asking ourselves why a limited government is important?
Why a Limited Government Is Important
Those who wrote the United States Constitution was very adamant that we have a Constitutional Limited Government. James Madison said it best in the Federalist #45 "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." They wanted to make sure that the Federal government was "few and defined," which means if the Consitution does not give them the right to do something, then the individual states would have that right. This thought was backed up in the Tenth Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
They understood that by having a limited government, we would have more freedom. They wanted to protect us from a tyrannical government who could have a say on the small things of our life, or even worse the big stuff.
Ultimately, they understood human nature. James Madison also said, "Human nature is such that human beings need to be governed. We need government if we are not to descend into anarchy. But since human beings will make up the government, government itself must be limited, or it will become tyrannical. Just as we outside the government need to be governed, those inside the government require to be governed." They felt that any time you encroach on human liberties, then those in charge will become corrupt. Any corrupt government can be traced back to losing human freedoms.
As we slowly see the government infringing on our liberties, what are some ways we can get closer to having a limited government, while still helping those in need? First, by limiting those who work for the government. Probably the most significant thing we need to change is placing term limits on federal officials and members of Congress. Also, placing financial restraints on the Federal government, especially when it comes to how much we pay our government officials who are making our decisions, so they live a healthy living wage without excess. Also, the states need to take back some of the federal jurisdictions we have lost.
Limited government is critical in achieving freedom for its people. The more limits we put on the government, the healthier the community it governs can be. Although the government does need to be involved in certain aspects, it should be more strictly regulated and often for shorter terms.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Angela Michelle Schultz
James A Watkins from Chicago on July 21, 2020:
I very much enjoyed reading your article. It is most excellent in every way. Thank you for it.