Why I vote the way I do

ConservativesBy Norm Silber

As a member of the New Hampshire House of Representative and Chair of the Town of Gilford Budget Committee, I am sometimes asked for justification or criticized for my position and votes on various issues before the NH House, the Belknap County Delegation, and the Gilford Budget Committee. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I could hardly have said it any better than it was said in 1960.

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.

I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. My aim is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to our constitutions, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.

I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is for a proper role of government action and is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that, in that cause, I am doing the very best I can.

Every year the state and national leadership of one of our major political parties, which has in recent years veered sharply to the left, demands that the state and federal governments spend more than they are spending, and that my own Republican party has proposed to spend.

But neither of our political parties has seriously faced up to the problem of government spending. The recommendations of the various and sundry commissions (bipartisan and otherwise) that have studied the spending of our governments over many hearings and over many years have been largely ignored. Yet even their tepid recommendations, dealing as they do for the most part with extravagance and waste, do not go to the heart of the problem.

The root evil is that the government is engaged in activities in which it has no legitimate business.

As long as the state or federal governments acknowledge and take upon themselves responsibility in a given social or economic field, its spending in that field cannot be substantially reduced. The only way to curtail spending substantially is to eliminate the programs on which excess spending is consumed.

The government must begin to withdraw from a whole series of programs that are outside its constitutional mandates-from social welfare programs, education absent meaningful parental choice, public power, agriculture, public housing, urban renewal and all the other activities that can be better performed by individuals, private institutions (including businesses and charities), and lower levels of government.

I do not suggest that the state or federal governments drop all of these programs overnight. But I do suggest that we establish, by law, a rigid timetable for a staged withdrawal. We might provide, for example, for a 10% spending reduction each year in all of the fields in which government participation is undesirable. It is only through this kind of determined assault on the principle of unlimited government that American people will ever obtain relief from high taxes, and will start making progress toward regaining their freedom.

And let us, by all means, remember the nation’s interest in reducing taxes and spending

The need for “economic growth” that we hear so much about these days will be achieved–not by the government’s feeble attempts at “harnessing” the nation’s or state’s economic forces, but by emancipating them.

By reducing taxes and spending, we will not only return to the individual the means with which he or she can assert their individual freedom and dignity, but we will also guarantee to the state and nation the economic strength that will always be our ultimate defense against foreign foes.”

Taken, with some liberties, from The Conscience of a Conservative, by Barry Goldwater.