GOP, American and Christian Values: Limited Government

Our modern world is beset with ideas and agendas which run counter to what most Americans instinctively understand are healthy and in harmony with the traditional values of our country.

We’re all familiar with the frog in the pot analogy which reveals the truth that if social engineers try to change things too quickly, the public is alerted to the threat and will run from it.  Because of this truth, those who promote harmful agendas must cloak their aims in secrecy, misdirection and deception. Part of such efforts includes calling things by a different name, and even claiming that something falls within a certain set of values when a closer look clearly reveals that it does not.

Most Americans have been onto this game played by the Left for quite some time. The American people have gotten pretty good at identifying the threat to our values which comes from the Democrat Party.

Ted Cruz 2016

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What Americans are not so good at recognizing is that the Republican Party no longer stands solidly for the traditional American values it once reliably championed. Has the Republican Party platform changed? No.  Have most Republicans now embraced the radical liberalism that has infested the Democrat Party since the late 1960s?  Not even close.  But while we weren’t paying attention, many liberals have infiltrated the Republican Party and gained positions of power and leadership within the party. These “liberals with an ‘R’ after their name” talk the game of conservative Republican values, but vote and behave very differently than the values they espouse. We hear them say things that are in line with the GOP platform and traditional Republican values, yet we see them vote in opposition to those values and even vote in favor of values antithetical to the stated positions of their party.

When caught, some will even go so far as to claim that the liberal positions they have embraced with their actions are somehow not really contrary to Republican values.  Sometimes they claim that these particular Republican values are somehow at odds with American values.  Some even claim these Republican values are contrary to Christian values.

In an effort to help clarify the truth about some of this misdirection and propaganda, I have begun a series which examines some of the more “controversial” Republican values, to see if they truly fit within the documented principles of the Republican Party. Since some make the claim that they are deviating from Republican values based on a “higher calling” of American values or Christian principles, these issues will also be examined from these perspectives.

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I have already examined the issue of illegal immigration.  Now we will examine socialism and limited government.

Republican Values

The last published South Dakota GOP platform states the following concerning health care:

The South Dakota Republican Party recognizes that South Dakota continues to make strides in health care. We support the concept that individual states should develop and control their own health care plans as determined by local needs and strongly oppose the nationalization of our healthcare system. We strongly support market-based reforms that are consumer-driven and targeted to reducing costs and increasing access.

The 2008 national Republican platform says

Republicans believe the key to real reform is to give control of the health care system to patients and their health care providers, not bureaucrats in government or business…

…It is not enough to offer only increased access to a system that costs too much and does not work for millions of Americans. The Republican goal is more ambitious: Better health care for lower cost

South Dakota carried out a study of health care in our state a few years ago called the Zaniya Project. The study made a number of interesting finds:

  • Native Americans in South Dakota already have a government health care system…yet overall Native American health, as well as the functionality of their government health care system, is very poor.  Obviously, government control of health care does not equate to better health and better health care; in fact, the opposite is true.
  • The study found that access to health care is not a major problem in South Dakota. South Dakota also had the third shortest waiting room time in the nation. Government health care systems are notorious for long waiting lists.
  • Zaniya Project also found that many people who do not have health insurance do not want it and may not need it.  A number of independently wealthy people do not need health insurance. Also, many young people are healthy and need little or no health care. Forcing free Americans into government health care “solutions” they do not want and may not need is contrary to every principle upon which America was founded.
  • The uninsured rate is much lower in families with intact marriages.  Strengthening marriage would therefore reduce the number of uninsured. This finding would go hand in hand with the GOP’s stated value of promoting and strengthening marriage, rather than undermining marriage as the Left does.

The Republican Party has a history of being on the side of freedom and free market solutions, as well as being opposed to government expansions of power. When ObamaCare–an unconstitutional and unprecedented expansion of government power within the realm of health care–was passed in Congress in 2009, not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for it.

Ironically, while some states were doing everything they could to fight this unconstitutional intrusion into the rights of the people and the states, some “Republicans” in South Dakota have repeatedly shot down attempts to resist ObamaCare, and have moved forward in facilitating ObamaCare in South Dakota, even before the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a lawsuit filed against it by some 27 states.

American Values

The U.S. Constitution states in Article 1 Section 8 what the federal government is empowered to do. You will note that creating or administering a health care system is not found among these powers, nor is the power to redistribute wealth or create or administer a system of charity given to the federal government.

Further, the Tenth Amendment states

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The founders of our great nation knew all too well how oppressive an out-of-control government could be to its own citizens. Indeed, this is the reason the American colonies declared independence from that oppressive government in 1776, and went to the trouble of enumerating the multiple intrusions upon and trampling of God-given liberties by the government.

The limited-government model established by the United States Constitution, and the free market made possible under such a model, ushered in what some have called a “5,000 Year Leap” forward in freedom and advancement. The United States went in less than 200 years from a backwater colonial area to the most free and prosperous nation in human history. No other nation on earth has enjoyed the freedom we have had, thanks to our limited government model, and no other nation has enjoyed the prosperity and ease of life we have experienced.

Countless statements made by the founders reinforce the limited government/private sector model:

We must confine ourselves to the powers described in the Constitution, and the moment we pass it, we take an arbitrary stride towards a despotic Government. – James Jackson, First Congress

Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. – Thomas Jefferson

Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated. – Thomas Jefferson

With respect to the two words ‘ general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. – Thomas Jefferson

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined . . . to be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” – James Madison

A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. – John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions 1787

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. – James Madison

Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. – James Madison

We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. — Congressman Davy Crockett

I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve the measure] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded. – President Franklin Pierce’s 1854 veto of a measure to help the mentally ill

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. – President Grover Cleveland

Until about 70 years ago, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the Great Depression as a vehicle to subvert the U.S. Constitution and the American way, America’s limited government model included only private charity.  In addition to there being no constitutional authority for such action, the private charity model was better able to determine genuine need versus frivolous appeals for charity, and was better able to address the causes of the need (often substance abuse, poor work ethic, general irresponsibility, etc.) and equip the individual to overcome those root causes.

Meanwhile, models of centralized government and authoritarianism abound with lessons that big government results in more misery, less efficiency, unsustainable costs, and great loss of freedom. From the monolithic example of the former Soviet Union, to the examples of totalitarian regimes like Cuba and North Korea, to ailing and ineffective models throughout socialist Europe, the lessons are always clear: where more freedom and limited government abound, freedom and prosperity abound.

The present inefficient state of the American health care system is a product of too much government rather than not enough government intervention. It was only because of wage controls FDR placed on businesses that we have the employer sponsored health insurance model in the first place. Businesses needed to be able to attract good workers, but were prohibited from offering higher wages as an incentive. To get around this government meddling, they began to offer benefits such as company-sponsored health insurance.

That has become the new “norm,” and is now expected, even though it makes little sense. Do you get your auto insurance through your employer?  While some do get their life insurance through their employer, is that the norm?  This response to government meddling has contributed to the lack of portability we currently see in health insurance. Further government meddling which prevents buying and selling insurance across state lines has only added to the problem.

Throw in the mountain of regulations with which the federal government has burdened the health care and insurance industry, and add to it the market distortion caused by the deep pockets of government health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc.) and you have a recipe for high costs and inefficiency.

The answer is not to turn the whole thing over to those which have already made such a mess of it, but rather to move back toward the free market, consumer driven model that has always worked so well for America.

The American system is clearly superior, and government health care systems are clearly incompatible with the American model.

Christian Values

The Bible says that we are to care for the poor and needy.  However, nowhere does it mandate, authorize or condone a system of government charity. Instead, the Bible is clear in both Old and New Testaments

– If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold. (Leviticus 25:25)

– Do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit (Exodus 23:3)

– Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19:15)

– If a man will not work, he shall not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

– These should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family (1 Timothy 5:4)

– As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house (1 Timothy 5:13)

– If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. (1 Timothy 5:16)

On the more general topic of charity and welfare systems, the Bible is equally clear that people are to be responsible for meeting their own needs and those of their family, and when that is not possible through no fault of the individual, people are care for the needy, beginning with other families  and individual members of the community.

In a nation like America where institutional injustice has been virtually eliminated, more often than not, the cause of poverty is not being oppressed by a ruler or the inability to make a living because of the oppression of a ruling class, but rather because of moral failures of the individual. Substance abuse–be it illegal recreational drugs or alcohol abuse or something else–is frequently the root cause of poverty. Sex and parenthood outside of marriage also often results in an inability to make an adequate living. Gambling problems also contribute to poverty and job loss through wages gambled away, and work lost due to the gambling habit. Sometimes a poor work ethic (not showing up on time, frequent absences, poor work quality, insubordination, etc.) contributes to poverty. Government agencies are ill-equipped to deal with these root causes, while individuals and private charities (for example, Love INC) are better able to connect with the individual on a personal level and help them address the root causes of need.

To push off on government the responsibility of caring for the needy is to ignore the root causes of poverty and want, and it ignores our duty as Christians. Neither the Bible nor the U.S. Constitution tells us to look to the government to do that which we should be doing ourselves.

In conclusion, it is clear that limited government and the private sector model are most compatible with Republican values, American principles, and Christian doctrine.


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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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