Morris: Big Government, Type 1

November 9, 2020

by Leo Morris

After Joe Biden was projected the winner of the presidential election, I read many variations of this sentiment, written by Frank Rich in New York Magazine:

“The good news that comes with the potential Biden presidency is that there will be an honest and decent man in the White House, buttressed by a professional and at least nominally bipartisan triage team, who will try to undo the damage. 

“. . . Most of all, the nation will have dodged a bullet. What would have happened during an unchecked second Trump term is too horrific to contemplate.”

I had to laugh, because it was pretty much the antithesis of what I was thinking:

I wish Donald Trump had another term to undo the damage done by authoritarian statists. But I’m glad we had at least a four-year break in the inexorable march of progressivism. Leviathan’s arrival will be paused momentarily while its soldiers regroup.

I have to confess here that I have almost given up on my lifelong fight for small-government conservatism. I know I can’t speak for others in my camp, but I suspect that attitude (and, fine, it is defeatist) is not uncommon.

The growth and centralization of power, the path to bigger and bigger government, cannot be stopped if that is what citizens demand. It is often said that freedom is a universal yearning. But once people have it, they then want security. 

And the more security they have, the more they want, never mind that it comes at the cost of their freedom. On and on it goes, until, as Margaret Thatcher warned, the government “runs out of other people’s money” to give away, and the whole thing collapses.

And, frankly, though the jury is still out on this, the world may have become too complex to be negotiated with Thomas Paine’s attitude that, even at its best, government is a necessary evil that must be limited.

So, what we’re left with, we hardy band of cheerful fools, is a choice between Big Government that tyrannizes us and Big Government that retains at least some respect for the Constitution’s foundation of natural rights and the primacy of the individual.

With Trump, we could at least console ourselves with the thought of a Big Government working in our interest. And despite Trump’s flaws, including especially the bombastic personality his critics could not see beyond, he managed to create a rational foreign policy that put America first and a domestic policy that expanded opportunities for everyone.

But now we’re back to the other Big Government, the one that seeks to advance equality to the point where liberty no longer exists. I’ve called it statism and progressivism and authoritarian, but let’s just call it what it is: socialism, which inexplicably enthralls increasing numbers of Americans despite its repeated failures throughout history.

Dinesh D’Souza, in his recent book “The United States of Socialism,” calls it “identity socialism,” which, in the words of Auguste Meyrat in The Federalist, “champions the cause of majoritarian democracy” by “uniting together the many strands of identity politics, environmentalism and class warfare” and pits marginalized groups against traditional American norms.” Identity socialists have two goals, “to confiscate property, but also to make traditional Americans feel like foreigners in their own country.”

Democracy, it has been said, is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. So, when we hear the new administration and its supporters call for greater democracy, we should understand that “these elites are not thinking of how to empower all people, but really of empowering one group of people to dominate over others.”

People like Frank Rich, of course, do not see this the way I do – as a coming horror show – but as the return to the way things ought to be, with (oh, brother) a “decent and honest man” to wrest the country from the grimy paws of Trumpists who want to greedily have everything and destroy anybody who wants a tiny piece of it.

To him, opponents are not merely those with opposing views and different values. They are evil, to be both loathed and feared, and therefore to be vanquished by any means necessary.

“There is no reason,” he warns in conclusion, “to think that a setback in a single election will cause America’s conservative movement to either dwindle in size or compromise its views no matter what transpires in a Biden presidency.”

Honestly, I wish he were right about that. I fear he is not.

Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at


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