Guy W. Farmer: Government is good ... or is it?

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

After reading his recent “government is good” column in the Appeal, I’m convinced that former congressional staffer Bo Statham is a worthy successor to my friend Dr. Eugene Paslov, a liberal columnist who stopped writing in order to establish a performing arts charter school in Carson City. I wish Paslov well in his new venture and welcome Statham as a fellow columnist. As you might imagine, we’ll disagree from time to time.

It’s ironic that Statham is our newest liberal columnist because he once worked for the late Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.), who was one of the most conservative men ever to serve in the Senate. Nevertheless, Statham seems to have a rather naive view of a benign and benevolent federal government.

Statham quotes the Constitution to remind us that the government’s role is to promote “a more perfect union, justice, domestic tranquility, (and) the general welfare and liberty.” He goes on to describe the Constitution as a “living document” that should be interpreted in the context of changing conditions and circumstances in our country and the world. This where we part company, because I believe our founding document means what it says, and that’s how I understood the oath I took as a U.S. Foreign Service officer to support and defend the Constitution.

For example, I thought the late President Richard Nixon violated the Constitution during the Watergate crisis and deserved to be removed from office. And while I don’t wish to compare President Obama to Nixon, I think Obama is treading a narrow constitutional line with his free-spending, Big Government agenda. Exhibit A is Obamacare, which envisions federal control of health care. Its provisions will be enforced by the same IRS bureaucrats who recently targeted conservative political organizations for intensive scrutiny.

Statham reminds us that the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments protect our individual liberties, but he neglects to mention the 10th Amendment, which declares that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.” Where does it say that the federal government can control the health care industry? Or where does it say that the Feds can turn Nevada into the nation’s nuclear waste dump?

Statham received support from liberal Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Cory Farley, who happily reported that a recent Gallup Poll found that “more Americans are shifting in ideological attitudes, identifying themselves as ‘liberals’ in regard to social and economic issues ...” The 2014 midterm elections will tell us whether the electorate has moved to the left. I suspect it ha become more liberal on some social issues while remaining more conservative on economic, defense and national security issues. I don’t think a majority of Americans favor Obama’s income-redistribution schemes, which smack of European socialism. No thanks!

I describe myself as a moderately conservative, states’ rights Nevada Democrat and an independent voter, which probably makes me a “Blue Dog” in other states. There aren’t many of us left, but my political hero in my formative years in Seattle was Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson — our beloved senator from Boeing — who was liberal on social issues and conservative on defense and national security. Where are the Scoop Jacksons when we really need them?


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