“That government is best which governs least.”
It is hard to imagine what Tom Paine might think should he be witness to the current state of our country and the world if he should see it today.
One thing he would find this year that is different from years past is a George Bush whose power has peaked and is now on the wane as he grapples with what is now generally believed to be an ill-conceived and now intractable war in Iraq, and the declining popularity in his overall presidency that goes along with it.
This is no more in evidence by the woman – Madam Speaker – sitting directly behind the president as he delivered his State of the Union Address to the assembled Congress last evening.
Many have claimed that in proceeding years and in his previous speeches to Congress, Bush has moved to push executive powers to unprecedented levels, even to the direct contradiction of our Constitution and in violation of the law. Many have further asserted that Congress has been bereft of their core responsibility of oversight, letting the president shape and mold a new, some would claim almost monarchical, presidency.
And with the word “monarchical”, we would surely raise the ire of Mr. Paine.
But as one Libertarian has reported, the sight and sound of a chastened president, a Congress no longer willing to blindly do the president’s bidding, and the gridlock in governance that this often produces, is nothing more than the sweet call of limited government; for when an over-reaching president is not balanced by a watchful and prudent Congress, then that government is not best. Not for the people and not for the future state of our Union.
After all the pronouncements, proposals, and rhetorical flourish echoed through the halls of Congress, perhaps this is what Tom Paine would take away if he had witnessed the State of the Union address last night.
The state of our Union will be strong only so long as all participants in the process do their job and uphold their obligation to the American People and the Constitution upon which any and all authority those in government derive their power.