Charles Murray (AEI) correctly informs Americans that:
The common understanding of the limited role of government that united the Founders, including Hamilton, [is] now held only by a small minority of Americans, who are considered to be on the fringe of American politics. The Founders retain their historic stature, with both liberals and conservatives quoting snippets of their writings and arguing that the Founders would be on their side if they were alive today. But as a matter of historical accuracy, it cannot be argued that the Founders’ views of the proper scope of government bear any resemblance to the platforms of either the Democratic or the Republican parties.
The expansion of government can be measured in many ways, from the number of people who work for the government to the number of laws and regulations that have to be obeyed. But perhaps the simplest measure of the movement away from the Founders’ conception of limited government is the monetary size of government. Except for wartime, the federal government never spent more than 4 percent of GDP in any of the 140 years from the founding until 1931. As of 2011, the government spent about 25 percent of GDP.
To get a good read on the actual intent of the Founders, give a good read to America’s original Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution. A powerful central government and chief executive, along with a grandiose Federal court system, had no place with the Founders. Far from it. America was to be a states’ rights federal republic with few and clearly enumerated powers for the part time central government. How many members of the U.S. Senate have ever read the Articles of Confederation?
Having recently been in Washington, I find it hard to believe that America can return to the grounding principles of such founders as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Dickinson, and George Mason.
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