Over at the Action Institute blog, Jordan Ballor captures the essence of the Nanny Government ideology that started with liberals but has come to affect conservatives, including George W. Bush under the title of “compassionate conservatism” and most of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for president.
Ballor cites a speech given by a character in a new TV show who is portraying a Republican senator in the “John McCain style”:
And one day I realized that politics is about the privilege and the honor of taking care of people, of making certain that the weak are protected, the poor are sheltered, and the hungry fed.
In such a view, it is the task of government to “take care of people,” periphrasis for a nanny State if I ever heard one. Indeed, politics are about sheltering the poor and feeding the hungry, taking care of people who obviously can’t take care of themselves. It’s not about empowerment but about infantilization.
Contrast this with a rather different view of politics, as portrayed in the words of Lord Acton, one that doesn’t arrogate politicking to the status of the highest possible human endeavor:
There are many things the government can’t do—many good purposes it must renounce. It must leave them to the enterprise of others. It cannot feed the people. It cannot enrich the people. It cannot teach the people. It cannot convert the people.
In Acton’s view, the highest purpose for the government is to promote and protect liberty, which is itself only a precondition for virtuous living.
Replacing God with the State
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