Limit Government, But Don't Enfeeble It

To limit is to create boundaries. Our government is limited by a Constitution that restricts certain behavior based on precedent and an understanding of human nature. But when the term limited government is employed, it is contingent on necessities of the moment, on those factors that can produce security and tranquility. Emergencies require stringent action, action that the Constitution will in most instances countenance.

The genius of our system is the flexibility inherent in the framing and the parameters that offer direction for action. Constitutional provisions are a balance wheel of restrained can dos and adaptable limitations. Therefore limited government has several meanings that should be offered as part of the public debate on the future of government activity. The glib assertion that we should recall the American application of limits is valid for a generation that often believes government should do everything from paying your mortgage to providing free health care. Our Constitution recognized government as a necessary institution which is neither powerless nor omniscient. That may not be the stuff of bumper sticker logic, but it is closest to what actually exists in Washington D.C.