First off, thanks for sharing your perspective on what it means to be liberal, Ms. Cogan. One of the most interesting things about politics — to me, at least — is the wide variety of interpretations of various political philosophies. It’s fascinating to me how different people can draw such different conclusions from the same basic set of ideas.
That said, as a self-described moderate & Independent, I do want to jump in and defend conservatives on one point: the benefits of small government.
I tend to sympathize with them on this point because, in my experience, big government is often an obstacle to overcome, not a catalyst for progress. When I briefly worked for the government (in the AmeriCorps*NCCC program), I myself had to deal with a few regulations that I truly believe made it harder for myself and my peers to do our jobs and help the people we were supposed to be helping.
As a former contractor, I’ve also had to untangle a lot of red tape when working in government facilities. I know, for instance, that the bidding process for government work is often unnecessarily complex, which in turn stifles competition by making it harder for smaller, family-run businesses to compete with the heavy hitters in their industries. One of the consequences of that is more waste, as government contracts are often rewarded to the biggest, but not necessarily the best, companies, some of whom are known for overcharging clients.
And as a writer/commentator/political junkie, I do still see lots of examples of “big government” policies that are damaging to working class and lower income people. A good example of this is the issue of occupational licensing, a topic that I’ll be touching on in an article I’m working on. But just to give you an example, thousands of prison inmates in California helped battle wildfires last year. Unfortunately, though, they won’t be able to become firefighters after they leave prison and need to find work. California’s licensing laws forbid them from doing so despite the training and experience they’ve already received. This is a common theme throughout the country. Occupational licensing makes it harder for ex-cons and lower income people to find jobs and become financially independent, which is why I appreciate the conservative voices calling for a little deregulation in that department.
To sum it up, I’ve always felt that “big government” is sometimes necessary but should always be considered a last resort. I support government intervention on issues like climate change because, frankly, the government is the only entity capable of tackling that problem. On the other hand, if the problem in question can be handled without the government getting involved, it’s usually better (in my humble opinion) if they stay on the sidelines.