chapter  1
11 Pages

The American Ideal of "Limited Government"

Wearetodayinthemidstofafundamentaltransformationintheway theAmericanpeoplethinkaboutgovernmentanditsroleinthelifeof thenation.Untilthepastdecade,thereseemedtobeagrowingconsensusthattheflourishingofAmericansocietyinthetwentiethcentury dependedonthefederalgovernment'sperformanceofanincreasingly centralroleinmanagingeconomicandsocialrelations.Themajorityof Americans,intheirsupportforProgressiveErareforms,theNew Deal,theFairDeal,andtheGreatSociety,appearedtohaveconcluded thatastrictseparationbetweengovernmentandtheeconomy-akey valueoftheAmericanpoliticaltradition-wasnolongerpossibleinthe modernworld.Theidealsofstrictlylimitedgovernmentandanunrestrictedfreemarket,althoughrituallyinvoked,wereinpracticeabandonedasthefederalgovernment,underbothDemocraticandRepublicanadministrations,becameanactivistgovernmentintheserviceof othernationalvalues-militarystrengthandsecurity,economicefficiencyandproductivity,publichealthandsafety,socialjusticeand humanitarianism.Bytheseventhdecadeofthecentury,government hadbecomeenormousandomnipresent-tosome,aLeviathan;to others,apitifulgiant.