Over the decades, but especially since the 1980’s, the Right has become a constant source of complaints about “Big Government”. They rant and rail against the evils of “our freedoms” being taken away by “jackbooted thugs” and “unelected bureaucrats”, and pledge to reduce (and even eliminate) this “evil” thing. (Given their attitude that government is “the problem”, one wonders why they would sully themselves by participating therein, but that is a topic for another day.)

When we look at what PARTS of government are considered to be too “big”, an interesting pattern emerges. Time and again, the Right favors big government when it delivers benefits to its members, and opposes government when it does not: also, they will gladly enlarge the size and reach of government if it suits their agenda. Some indicative samples (not by any means a comprehensive list):

[1] Birth Control – the Right wants to restrict and regulate it. In a recent dustup, a number of church groups objected to providing insurance coverage on the grounds that it infringed on the religious freedoms of the institution. The religious freedoms of the individuals affected were not considered important by the Right.

[2] Wiretapping – the Right loves them some peeping Tom activity. They pushed through and have since maintained the ability of the government to monitor your speech, activities, movements, financial dealings, etc., all in the name of protecting our “freedoms”.

[3] Regulation – if it’s a big business in the cross-hairs, regulation is very bad, oh yes, veryveryvery bad indeed. If it’s an individual, or small business, meh.  An example –  the companies that provide and operate our election systems are very lightly regulated, while an honest citizen has to run an ever-increasingly restrictive gauntlet to cast his or her ballot on one of those black-box devices.

[4] Military – too much is never enough for the Right. One of the bigger bits of big government, but somehow not a problem.

[5] Medicaid – not supported by the Right, who favor letting “faith-based charities” and “market forces” provide health care to the poor and uninsurable. They seem to forget that Medicaid was enacted because those groups weren’t getting the job done.

[6] Free speech – depends on who is doing the speaking. A large corporation might buy some media outlets and promulgate their views far and wide. So too can “grass roots” organizations that enable the Right’s agenda. But scruffy little lefties must proceed to out-of-the-way places (“free speech zones”) to feebly bleat their opinions.

The key point is this:  the Right is focused on the freedom of selected Institutions from government control, while the Left focuses on the freedom of the Individual from government control.  And remember that Institutions can control Individuals just as effectively as can government: witness the many thousands of idiots who vote against their own interests and even stand up and participate in protest rallies to support the destruction of their own jobs, rights and ways of life, all to support the institution that has gulled them.

Next time: Why does the Right favor institutions over individuals?