Rich & Mark, here’s a telling indicator of why I think Michael Barone is right. Do you think that, say, fifteen years ago, the federal government could have banned the incandescent light-bulb without attracting anyone’s notice? I think it would have been pretty controversial (I actually think they wouldn’t have dreamed of trying it). Now they tuck it into a 3000+ page omnibus spending bill that no one could possibly have read nor have a clue what’s in. And it’s ho-hum. No one is really complaining. Harry Reid says, well, of course this is the proper role of the federal government. And we all roll over and go back to sleep.
I heard someone say a few years ago — I think it was Sean Hannity, though I don’t remember if this was Sean’s idea or he was reporting something he’d heard elsewhere — that if he could do only two things in government, he would (a) end withholding and (b) move election day to April 16. At this point, I wonder if even that would help. Big(ger and bigger) government is just a fact of life, like the change of seasons, and we just go along.
It used to be that you could easily compare government with private industry, see the obvious benefits of the latter, and argue that government should do less things. But now with the steady, silent creep of regulations, mandates, subsidies, consent decrees, etc., government is effectively directing so much of what used to be the private sphere, I don’t think younger voters have a conception of small government to compare to big government. And as Mark suggests, I think that is our fault. The 1994 revolution came in like a lion and went out like … a Democrat (or, at least, an incumbent).