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Section A: General News


Editorial: We’ll never agree on the role of government ... and that’s okay




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Guest Editorial
September 26, 2012 | 1,399 views | 37 comments

By Lee Hamilton

The conventional wisdom has settled on the subject of this year’s presidential campaign: It’s about the proper role of government in our nation’s life. This is a good argument to have, but don’t expect it to be resolved by the election. Americans have been debating the question since before the Constitution was drawn up, and we haven’t come to terms on it yet.

At the moment, we’ve got a Republican challenger who embraces the conservative conviction that government must be as limited as possible, and a Democratic incumbent backed by liberals who see value in government’s role. The gap between their views seems unbridgeable. Yet in the end this fundamental political gulf is not as wide as it appears.

This is because the real question in governing is rarely, “What is the ideologically proper thing to do?” Instead, it’s how do we run the country day-to-day? And how do we get a diverse group of politicians to make progress on our current problems while putting aside the problems they cannot solve? When Wall Street crashes or natural calamity strikes or schools fail, the pragmatism of the moment always comes to the fore, no matter what ideology elected officials espouse.

Which is where most Americans find themselves. They don’t consider government to be all good or all evil. They want it to work well and efficiently, be as productive as the private sector, exert itself to keep the market functional but not so much that it over-regulates business, and get a handle on entitlements so that they’re sustainable over the long term.

In essence, government is a tool -- it’s one of the ways that we as Americans meet the challenges that confront us. So while many people may feel that Washington has too much power, they still want it to protect their interests.

The nation’s current fiscal difficulties will surely force government to do less than many people want, and the public sector will have to become smarter, more productive, and more efficient. This is not a bad thing. But no matter who is in charge, we are unlikely to veer too far left or too far right, because the debate over the proper role of government will remain unsettled. And that’s not a bad thing, either.

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
 

Your Opinions and Comments

 
4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
October 3, 2012 7:23am
 
What's to agree or not on the role of Government...read the Constitution. The Constitution gives the role of the Government.

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
October 2, 2012 4:38pm
 
You still did not point out any specific lies.

 
4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
October 2, 2012 2:03pm
 
Obviously you haven't read many of my comments or you would know that I loathe Oblamesomeoneelse.

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
October 2, 2012 10:42am
 
4th Gen Texan.....I am so glad for your analysis. I hate to destroy your illusion about my always thinking that I am correct. I was wrong back in the middle seventies. My mistake was letting someone convince me that I was wrong ... More ›

 
4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
October 2, 2012 9:42am
 
"there you go again"...you aint no Ronald Reagan. why are you stealing his phrase? See what I mean. Plagarism, lies, deceit. You've said so many things in an attempt to deceive that you probably honestly think ... More ›

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
October 1, 2012 12:38pm
 
4th.....There you go again.....writing in tongues.... When your bluff is called, you just lash out....you made a statement that I was spreading lies....what lies.....you pathetic little twit.

 
4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
October 1, 2012 11:45am
 
Fhamooch you pooch and Fhamooch you!

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
October 1, 2012 11:33am
 
Publicola.....Are you fiddling ???? It's good to hear positive news for a change....thank you. 4th.....What specific lies are you talking about ? As usual, you just babble.....

 
Ex-Tiger  
CA  
October 1, 2012 10:49am
 
4GT: I guess I should rephrase. There are polygamist and child molesters who claim to be Mormons and practice based on past Mormon beliefs. Not a lie or a rumor. Its not as open due to current laws that prohibit being married ... More ›

 
Publius Valerius Publicola  
Rome, Tx.  
October 1, 2012 9:49am
 
That's it. Squabble and fight. Insult each other with stupid comments. But what ever you do don't think. We don't need to pay attention to what the situation in this Country really is. Every thing is just fine. Why look, employment ... More ›

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