Skip Navigation

Government & Politics

Government & Politics
April 22, 2017
The Upcoming First Round of Voting in the French Presidential Election
On Sunday, April 23rd, the French will vote in the first of two rounds to determine their next President. In France, the system of elections involves, first, something of a jungle primary, in which many parties field candidates.
Government & Politics
April 22, 2017
How the travel ban ruling could change public education
Liberal politicos celebrating court decisions voiding President Donald Trump’s travel orders seem not to have noticed something: Those decisions pose a direct threat to the state constitutional language they rely on to block school choice programs.
Government & Politics
April 21, 2017
NY’s Over-Reaching, Micro-Managing Governor: From ‘Green Energy’ to…Charity Milk
When politicians are over-reaching, micro-managing busybodies, they are over-reaching, micro-managing busybodies on…everything.
More News
Government & Politics
April 20, 2017
Australia’s Most Prominent Libertarian Politician Speaks at The Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute on April 12 hosted “An Evening with Sen. David Leyonhjelm,” who distinguishes himself as the only libertarian in the Australian Parliament – the Rand Paul of the Senate Down Under.
Government & Politics
April 19, 2017
Uber-Left Google’s Major Move – Flooding the Right with Cash
Google is almost inarguably the dominant company on the Left. So ensconced are they in the highest of high Left political circles, they basically owned and operated the Barack Obama Administration.
Government & Politics
April 18, 2017
The Horror of Chemical Weapons
Chemical weapons seem to be in a class by themselves: the ultimately gruesome way to die. Their use crosses the final Red Line to a heinous crime against humanity, and is a violation of international law.
 

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.

Additional Subtopics

  • Campaign Finance
  • Conservatives
  • Corruption
  • Democracy
  • Election Law
  • Fundraising
  • Gerrymandering
  • Incumbents and Candidates
  • Initiatives and Referenda
  • Leglislative Process Reform
  • Liberals

Videos

Title: Heartland Institute 2016 Election Wrap-Up Event
Description: Donald Trump shocked the world. He’s the next president of the United States. Our country – and our politics – may never be the same. Watch AM 560 hosts Dan Proft and Joe Walsh, Illinois Opportunity Project's Kathleen Murphy and Pat Hughes, and the Heartland Institute's Jim Lakely break down the 2016 election.

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

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.

Related Publications View All Publications