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Government & Politics

Government & Politics
July 23, 2017
Washington State Think Tank Fights Labor Unions’ Lawsuits
In a series of lawsuits filed in Washington on the state and the district court levels, lawyers representing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 775 are fighting the Freedom Foundation.
Regulation
July 23, 2017
Senate Considers REINS Act
A bill to require congressional approval and a presidential signature before federal agencies can make significant regulatory rule changes is under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
Government & Politics
July 21, 2017
Puerto Rico Voters Approve Statehood Ballot Question
Puerto Rico voters overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding referendum calling for the commonwealth to begin the process of applying for admission as a full state.
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Health Care
July 18, 2017
Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Plan to Repeal Obamacare Now, Replace Later
‘Repealing Obamacare and starting from scratch will likely result in a far more free-market replacement bill than the one recently considered by the Senate.’ – Peter Ferrara
Government & Politics
July 18, 2017
Twitter Users Claim 1st Amendment Rights Violated
President Trump, in defending his use of Twitter, says "he’s redefining the American presidency, describing his use of social media as 'modern day presidential' and necessary to fight what he deems fake news."
Government & Politics
July 18, 2017
Society Is Not a Family, Government Is Not a Parent
Few things are as clear as the bankruptcy of the political “left.”
 

The Issue

Throughout the course of human history, there have primarily been two distinct, fundamentally different views of the role of government. The position that has dominated in much of the world – now and for the overwhelming majority of history – is the view people in any given place ought to entrust a select few from society to rule over the masses. These governing authorities are given the power to control economies, regulate speech, and determine the extent of personal freedoms granted to individuals – all with the understanding the authority granted to them will be used responsibly to improve the lives of all people.

The second, more-radical view holds that every person – regardless of race, religion, age, or gender – is guaranteed certain inalienable liberties that no authority has the power to reduce, deny, or destroy, and it is the duty of government to safeguard these freedoms against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Under the first view, the success of society is dependent on a small group of people who have by birth, by privilege, or by force taken for themselves the lion’s share of power, and success is often determined based on subjectively defined, easily manipulated measures. Under the second view, each individual is treated equally under the law, is free to chart his or her own course in life, and is empowered with the liberty to pursue his or her own interests, to attain success, and to improve the lives of others without the heavy hand of a higher authority coercing the course of human events.

In his 1981 inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan, with the nation facing economic turmoil and growing international threats, denounced those who would trade their liberty for a more powerful government.

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” said Reagan. “From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

Reagan’s refutation of the expanding role of government in Americans’ lives echoes the desire of the Founding Fathers to establish a government that would exist to protect the liberty of every individual, rather than to seize freedom from the people in order to better control and manipulate society.

Our Stance

Government doesn’t exist only to serve the people; it exists to serve the people by protecting their liberties. When individuals are empowered to act with one another freely, innovation, economic growth, and virtually every other factor affecting people’s quality of life improves.

One of the greatest threats to personal liberty and destructive government overreach is the centralization of government’s power. Local and state governments should return to their constitutionally defined role of being the primary lawmakers on all those issues not specifically granted to the national government in the U.S. Constitution. Legislators and executive agencies should also reject all those laws and regulations that do not enhance personal freedom, and term limits should be imposed so that lawmaking is a public service, not a lifelong profession.

Featured Subtopics

Boy child giving flowers to girl child
Federalism is the philosophy that certain powers taken up by the national government should be transferred back to the states, where they originally resided.
A woman running freely
Libertarianism is a political philosophy that puts the protection and advancement of individual liberty before all other values. In the conventional political debate, this means libertarians call for less government and more freedom.
Two men in suits whispering to eachother
Term limits restrict the number of terms of office and lawmaker may hold. They have been a feature of democratic systems of government since Ancient Athens and the Roman Republic.

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Videos

Title: Free Market Road Show: The World after Brexit and Trump
Description: The 10th Annual Free Market Road Show brings together leading business people, outstanding scholars, and policy experts to discuss the aftermath of two historic events in the United Kingdom and United States.

Government & Politics Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on government and politics are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Heartland Staff Policy Experts

Alexandra York
American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century, Founding President
Alexandra is the founding president of American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART), a NYC-based 501 (C) (3) nonprofit educational foundation devoted to a rebirth of beauty and life-affirming values in all of the fine arts
Benjamin Ginsberg
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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