The Republicans have been beating their chest about smaller government for decades, decrying government over-reach, warning of the creep of socialism, brandishing the flaming sword of righteous reformation.
Ronald Reagan famously warned that government was not the solution; it was the problem. Grover Norquist, noted anti-tax campaigner, proposed the analogy of having a government small enough to drown in a bath tub. No more bureaucracy. No more federal regulatory agencies. No more social safety net for the citizenry. The GOP’s position was to make the government lean and mean, but with a squint-eyed compassion to disguise the flint-hearted sociopathy that they were actually proposing.
Donald Trump gutted regulatory agencies. This was touted as one of his crowning achievements by his party. He was the darling of the Libertarians. He stripped agencies of their budgets. He declined filling empty slots in the org charts of the EPA, the FDA, FTC and the rest of the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies. Most egregiously, he assigned corporate lobbyists and corporate heads to over-see the very corporations which had previously employed them; the classic fox in the hen-house approach to chaos.
There is not space enough in several tomes to relate all the ways in which the GOP have striven to achieve their vague ideal of ‘small government’. Let these examples suffice.
With the pandemic breathing heavily down our necks, the truth of the GOP’s small government ideology is revealed by the actions of Florida Governor DeSantis and Texas Governor Abbott. Both of them have determined that their vision of small government is one of dictatorial power. They have both ruled by decree; no local official may mandate the guidelines of the CDC. No mask mandates. No vaccine passports. No mandatory testing. In short, they have disallowed mayors, city councils, school boards, and even private industries from taking independent action to minimize the risk of COVI-19.
It is clear that what Trump, Abbott and DeSantis mean by ‘small government’ is actually ‘one-man rule’; a dictatorship. Once that epiphany is realized as truth, the actions of January 6th, the under-mining of elections, the proposal and enactment of new Jim Crow Laws and the psychotic, sociopathic and, frankly, ignorant response to the dangers of the pandemic, comes into blinding focus.
The GOP detest democracy and representational governance. The Trumpian version of the Grand Old Party want dictators to rule.