The Nature of American Conservatism #3

The Nature of American Conservatism #3

This series of blogs is based upon William Bennett and John Cribb’s new book, America the Strong: Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation.

They suggest that the key features of Conservatism are easily remembered using the acronym “FLINT”. This word stands for:

F=Free Enterprise

L=Limited Government

I=Individual Liberty

N=National Defense

T=Traditional Values

As Bennett and Cribbs describe “L”, Limited Government, does not suggest that conservatives are opposed to government, rather they are against government that “wastes money” and “runs poorly”. They quote Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his ideal of a government that is: “of the people, by the people, for the people” (Kindle Loc. 900).

The following are several quotes from this chapter that will better explain the conservative’s conception of what “Limited Government” should look like.


“President Ronald Reagan put it this way in his farewell address to the nation in 1989”: ‘Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the People.” “We the People” tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. “We the People” are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the People” tell the government what it is allowed to do (Kindle Loc. 911).


“If government’s power is unrestricted, it will naturally grow and control more of people’s lives. According to Thomas Jefferson, ‘The natural progression of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground’.”

“Abraham Lincoln left us with a good description of limited government. He wrote, ‘The legitimate object of government is to do for the community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere’.” (Kindle Loc. 935)


Bennett and Cribb describe how both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson thought that our Founder’s ideal of limited government was no longer workable and the size and scope of the federal government needed to grow.  In the 1930’s President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the Great Depression as an excuse to further expand the federal government’s powers. He called this expansion of federal government agencies actions, and tax expenditures “The New Deal”.

President Lyndon Johnson, in the 1960’s, used his conception of the “Great Society” to attack poverty and racial discrimination. Again, the number of the federal government’s agencies grew dramatically as did America’s tax expenditures to correct America’s social ills.

More recently, President Barrack Obama has expanded the federal government’s control of state and local politics as well as citizen’s lives in ways that have “transformed”, as Obama stated he would do, into something that America’s founding Fathers would be outraged to see: An unrelenting evolution to an increasingly socialistic, all-controlling federal government.

Please see the following which identifies the top ten, of a great many more,  of Obama’s most abusive executive actions.

Abusive to what?

Abusive to “L”: Individual Liberty for Americans!—-Which will he the topic of my next blog.

For a deeper understanding of the nature and scope of Obama’s abuses of power, please consider reading the more extensive article appearing at the end of this first one. It is entitled: An Executive Unbound: The Obama Administration Unilateral Actions.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, 10/25/15

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