The constitution and much of the American public advocate limited government. The purpose of government in this country is to assure peace, tranquility, and safety for its citizens. The constitution was written with that in mind. However, religious and cultural groups have worked determinedly to have government support their point of view.
The tenth amendment to the constitution 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. This amendment has only been applied in a couple of cases brought before the Supreme Court.
I could write 400 pages on this, but I’ll try to keep myself under control. First, what limited government means to many is, ‘Nothing should be allowed other than what I want.’
When the US was settled, it was by several different religious groups, Puritans in New England, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, and a different type of Protestants in the South. Aspects of this sectionalism remain today. The United States is now a multi-cultural society with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists, and a wide variety of Christians, as well as numerous smaller religious groups. The early settlers would be appalled at dealing with all of these different beliefs.
One fact holds for our early settlers and today’s society and that is ‘different is dangerous’. Many tend to believe that people who are not like us are a threat. They want limited government to mean that laws support and protect a particular belief and culture. It was the intent of the founders to get the national government out of religion and let the various cultural and religious beliefs stand or fall on their own. The tenth amendment allowed some slack for cultural support by the states.
So why can’t I legally commit suicide if I want to. It’s my life. One of the few things I own completely. I realize individuals unnecessarily end their lives, and people who love them don’t want this to happen. Should banning suicide be a function of limited government?
The limited government of the United States has been in citizen’s bedrooms since the beginning. There are laws and have been laws saying who you can sleep with and what you can do in bed. I do not see one clause in the constitution that talks about sexual conduct. Is it the job of limited government to control this behavior?
What is the basis for laws governing nudity? There is nothing in the constitution, but there are federal regulations governing it. Janet Jackson had a costume ‘failure’ and there was a great whoop-te-do about it, and talk about federal sanctions. Why can’t I walk around town nude, although it is a little cold right now? Is it the duty of limited government to impose a narrow morality standard on a multi-cultural population? Maybe all women should be required to wear burkas and not be exposing their bare legs or their faces.
Until recently, there have been many laws regulating commerce on Sunday. Why can’t I buy a bottle of vodka on Sunday if I’m not interested in that particular religion? This seems to me to be government supporting a particular belief system. Is there to be no consideration for those who have a holy day on Friday or Saturday? Again, this isn’t limited government.
On the other hand, religious and cultural groups may not deprive a citizen, particularly children of any of their rights with actions like forced marriage, honor killings, no education, confinement, or assault sexual and otherwise. Membership in these groups must be voluntary. This aspect of limited government has improved greatly in the past fifty years.
The constitution was written over 200 years ago and has been a good guide, but as I have observed in the past, it has been extensively lawyered. The culture of American citizens has changed as has the world environment. The constitution is difficult to amend and the national government has found ways to circumvent it for reasons of public safety or morality and to support the particular ideology of the leadership. Is this what we want from our national government or from out state governments?
I skipped out on spying on citizens and weapons. That’s another article.