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Thursday, January 31, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Blogging at NRO, Mark Steyn criticizes McCain thusly:

For a so-called “maverick”, he’s very comfortable with the application of Big Government power, and the assumption of Big Government virtue.

Setting aside the issue of McCain, per se, this struck me because, if I recall properly, Steyn is a big supporter of the Bush administration.

Apart from Ron Paul, I don’t think that there are any Small Government candidates out there1 –and, indeed, I am not sure that there really is any actual support in the electorate for Small Government in general. 2 Steyn, for example, represents a strain of US conservatism3 that may like to talk about small government, but in fact support substantial increases in military spending4, and more perniciously (if one, indeed, is interested in small government) greater executive power, especially in the area of security. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more Big Government than increased security power concentrated in the hands of an executive–especially when oversight is considered a threat to national security.5 As much as I would prefer spending to be under control, the notion that spending is the only (or even main) measure of the evils that government can do is rather myopic.

And, really, the last eight years haven’t exactly been the era of small government in the area of fiscal policy.

  1. I pressume that Steyn prefers Romney, but I would submit that we really have no clue as to what Romney’s real position is on fiscal policy, and he is certainly pushing big government in terms of the national security state. []
  2. Yes, people like tax cuts, favor spending reductions, and yet constantly want more from the government. We have been wringing our hands over the national debt and annual deficits for as long as I can remember, yet where is the real push to solve either problem? []
  3. Steyn himself is Canadian []
  4. Which, in case we haven’t noticed, does cost money []
  5. Or, it is considered too dangerous to talk about, because it might help the enemy. See here []
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4 Responses to “Steyn on McCain and Big Government”

  1. Ratoe Says:

    I think the whole concept of “small government” is a canard. It means absolutely nothing in practice and is basically a cynical form of mobilization that takes advantage of peoples’ lack of understanding about how government actually works.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I would counter that it is a gross oversimplification to be sure. And really, any discussion that reduces the discussion to a dichotomous choice between two adjectives is by definition overly limiting.

    I do think that there is a legitimate debate to be had about the scope of government.

  3. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » McCain and the “Conservatives” Says:

    [...] I have been quite fascinated for some time with the animosity in some very visible and vocal elements of the Republican Party on the issue of John McCain’s conservative credentials. Indeed, one of my posts yesterday touches on the subject. Further, Steve Bainbridge and I had a small back-and-forth on the general topic recently and I have noted it in other posts as well. [...]

  4. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » McCain and the “Conservatives” Says:

    [...] I have been quite fascinated for some time with the animosity in some very visible and vocal elements of the Republican Party on the issue of John McCain’s conservative credentials. Indeed, one of my posts yesterday touches on the subject. Further, Steve Bainbridge and I had a small back-and-forth on the general topic recently and I have noted it in other posts as well. [...]


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