Is there really a desire among the electorate for smaller government? This is not a facetious question. I have come to wonder if this is something that most Americans really do not care about.
I remember that Bush did not really want the 9/11 Commission or a new department of Homeland Security for that matter but there was public pressure for both. The result of course was a large expansion of the federal government. But at the time of its creation the Homeland Security Department was originally opposed by Bush who was criticized for that opposition:
The Gallup polling reported yesterday found that even though Democrats originated the proposal for a permanent homeland security department and President Bush initially opposed the concept, he was later successful in convincing a majority of Americans that it was a White House idea.
Three-fourths of Republicans polled say the new department will be at least somewhat effective and approve of it. Little more than half of all Democrats said they think it will be somewhat effective. One in 10 Democrats said they expect that the department "will not be effective at all."
There has been some criticism by conservatives of the drug prescription plan, but there is still pressure from the public to do more to help people pay for health care:
In an extensive ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll , Americans by a 2-1 margin, 62-32 percent, prefer a universal health insurance program over the current employer-based system. That support, however, is conditional: It falls to fewer than four in 10 if it means a limited choice of doctors, or waiting lists for non-emergency treatments.
Such a program would mean a much larger role for government and yet there certainly does not seem to be a groundswell of resistance to the idea, in fact more and more people seem to be warming to the idea.
I also noticed that among immigration hardliners there was never an attempt to honestly portray the costs in terms of added resources in manpower and money to ridding the country of all illegal aliens. The idea was that since this is a necessary function of government the costs is irrelevant.
But doesn't everyone feel that way? If it matters to me, it is important and the costs should be borne, the people hired, the bills passed.
In truth I think that most people would prefer the good old standard tax the rich policy to stringent budget cuts and while Americans are most certainly capitalists and not socialists they do feel that it is more important that government be effective rather than limited in size and scope. I think the libertarians are wrong on this, in fact I think they are naive.