In 1981, Ronald Reagan proclaimed that government is not the solution, government is the problem. In 1996, Bill Clinton proclaimed that the era of big government is over.
And yet, big government has persisted and its growth shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
How can conservatives stay true to their core principle that government is not the answer to every problem and yet acknowledge that government is a part of society?
My suggestion is that conservatives recast the debate. Government should at the very least be held accountable. It should be effective. It is not. Rather than making sweeping generalizations, conservatives should introduce measures that require government to be held accountable and to produce results. This should include concrete measures as well as a public relations campaign to target, as appropriate, areas where government employee unions obstruct progress for effective government.
One model for effective government that conservatives should look at is the state of Virginia. I lived there briefly while Mark Warner, a Democrat, was governor. I've got to say the guy did an incredible job in managing government effectively. He did his job.
John McCain’s promise to “name them and shame them” with respect to pork was a good one. It should be applied as part of a conservative “effective government” mantra. Government is a part of life. We can and should take steps to make it effective.