What does “Limited Government” really mean?

Posted on May 2, 2011

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The Myth

 If you are in favor of a limited government you want the United States to turn into Somalia.

The Truth

 When a member of the Tea Party refers to limited government they are referring to the federal government only. The Constitution created a federal government that is limited to specific powers that are clearly spelled out.

 Somalia is a country where government at all levels has broken down. There is no functioning government at the national level, local level, or any level in between. This breakdown of government at all levels has led to numerous deaths, mass starvation, a general state of lawlessness and other widespread suffering.

 The members of the Tea Party believe very strongly in he rule of law. In Somalia the society has broken down to the point the rule of law does not exist anywhere in the country.

 To claim the approach the Tea Party is advocating for will turn the United States into anything resembling Somalia is a gross distortion of the facts. This does not prevent the progressives from advancing this claim over and over again.

 The Facts

The framers of the Constitution knew an out of control federal government would be a direct threat to the liberty of the people and prosperity of the this nation. They had direct experience with and out of control national government, having lived under the thumb of England, and were determined to prevent the US government from becoming the same. They included many features in the constitution to prevent the US government from growing to the point where it would become a direct threat to our liberty and prosperity.

 Unfortunately the progressives, who believe in a huge federal government that makes decisions for us at all levels, have greatly weakened these protections to the point the federal government is now a threat to individual liberty and is teetering on bankruptcy.

 Limiting the federal government to only certain powers that are clearly enumerated is one of the most important protections. Enumerated is the precise legal term the framers of the constitution used. It means clearly spelled out and listed.

 The framers knew the more powers a government is given the larger the government would grow and the more oppressive it would become. They sought to leave the majority of government powers with the states because what they feared the most was power centralized in the federal government.  Distributing the government power across the entire country was their method of preventing power from being centralized and concentrated at the federal level.  The constitution left the majority of powers in the hands of state governments while limiting the federal government to only those powers that were necessary for the country to function properly. That is what is meant by a limited government.

 The founding fathers believed in a philosophy called localism which is a bottom up government.  They believed the proper place for making decisions that affected the everyday lives of the people is at the local level because local government is the easiest for the people to control. They believed the federal level is the absolute worst level for making decisions that affect the day tot lives of the people because it is the hardest level to control being the farthest from the people. This is why the founders wanted a limited federal government.

 The Proof

In Federalist Papers 41, 42, 43,and 45 James Madison discusses limited Government in great detail

 “What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed?… The generalizing and concentrating of all cares and powers into one body” Thomas Jefferson

This is not an indefinite government, but a limited government tied down to the specified powers which explain and define the general terms. James Madison

“It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.”
Alexander Hamilton

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