"Good government is no substitute for self-government."~ Mohandas Gandhi
To understand one reason why constitutionally limited government is important, read Empire of Debt by William Bonner and Addison Wiggin.
Power, once ceded to the government, is never offered back to the people.
Our federal government was limited in its power by a republican form of government which left most of the governing power in the hands of the people via the states. This is how a strong union was formed without sacrificing the liberty of the people. When the government grows too large, liberty is sacrificed and control over our government is taken from the people and transferred to a small number of individuals (oligarchy). That sort of central planning and control is the realm of tyrannical systems of government such as Communism, the very antithesis of what conservatives stand for. There are many conservative reasons to limit government, such as encouraging individuals to govern themselves and defending other principles and rights from those attempting to use government force to accomplish their goals. No matter the reason, the responsibility for keeping government limited to its constitutional role rests solely in the hands of individuals exercising their liberty to do so under the law.
Government of the People, Not of Little Tyrants
The great argument between liberals and conservatives used to be whether to use government to solve problems - now, to our dismay, we hear conservatives joining the big government club and simply arguing about what the problems actually are, on which we will never agree. An endless debate with no end is created when we do not look at the difference between good government and bad government. When we abandon our either/or thinking, many conservatives and liberals find they can agree that good government is one that is run by the people who are governed. A conservative may concede to the liberal application of government at the community level, and a a liberal will often agree that too much power in the hands of top-level individuals leads to tyranny. The rudder that keeps the republican form of government on a steady course is understanding the hows and whys of limiting government to a lawful role - the traditional conservative view.
Limiting Federal Government Protects Communities and Individuals
Why should folks in New York have any control over the laws in Kansas? How is an individual in Washington able to understand the needs and circumstances of individuals in millions of communities where they do not live? Who but the people in a community are able to know what is best for that community? Every state in the union has unique landscape, culture and resources, and it is the individuals in those communities that know best how to manage those circumstances. The tyrant's argument, "we know what's best for you" often rears its ugly head here as an excuse to override the liberty of the community to enforce a national standard, such as in schooling, abortion or environmental concerns. Certainly, someone in California may have a very good idea for how Mississippi can improve educational standards, or perhaps a fellow in Vermont knows exactly how Colorado can solve its water problems, but there are a millions ways to help eachother improve that do not carry the danger of tyranny in government. Intentions for using government force may be innocent and good, but the risk of tyranny over our communities through government force puts all our good intentions and ideas at terrible risk.
Protecting Individuals from Tyranny by the Community
Our Founding Virginian, George Mason refused to sign a constitution without a bill of rights. Though others objected, stating that the constitution did not give the federal government power over liberties such as speech and religion, George knew too well how government can be used to take the liberties which make us free men. While we may give up certain liberties to be a member of a community, the Bill of Rights ensures that the community cannot override the basic liberty of the individual while creating that community. Defending lawful government enables us to create those communities without endangering the basic liberty of the individual that gives the community its power in the first place.
. . . The Alphaville Decoder . . .
It's All Related
When government is not limited to it's constitutional role, a steady erosion of all other principles and freedoms takes place. Individuals operating in government on our behalf will eventually act in their own best self interests rather than those of their constituents. The allure of government power unchecked is attractive to those who want nothing more than power over others in order to line their pockets or perform social engineering experiments - this is proven out by the behavior of career politicians who have found it profitable to disregard the rule of law and make promises they can't or won't keep to the voters.
Additionally, individuals who believe truly in their good cause will use any government power they can to promote their values through force. The only way to defend our own liberty from the force of others is to prevent our own ability to do the same by limiting government power.
. . . The Alphaville Decoder . . .