James Lindgren goes through great pains to show that small government supporters aren’t racist. There is one problem. Small government supporters don’t actually exist.
Oh, there are a handful. A few intellectuals who are opposed to government expansion because they think it is in opposition to liberty or that it creates fundamental incentive problems. There are a few who distrust democracy generally. Then there is a somewhat larger swath of traditionalists who reason that small government is what the Founders wanted and is therefore by definition good.
The vast majority of people, however, view government as the Authority. Of those people, some of them are mad at the state of world and thus blame the Authority. This fuels some anti-government sentiment, but not small government views.
For example, contrast the number of people wanting to slash government budgets and bust government unions with the number of people who think that the FDA serves to restrict the right of people to buy drugs they believe are useful, that border controls deny people their fundamental right to contract with the worker of their choice or that statutory rape laws interject the state into the love lives of people who are permitted to operate a motor vehicle but not their own sexuality.
Anti-government folks are those who want to get back at the government and government employees for perceived grievances. They are just sticking it to the man who stuck it to them. This is why the Tea Party exploded in the wake of Bank Bailouts and Mortgage Modification Plans.
The anger was not that government was too big, it was that government was unjust. It was rewarding people who were behaving badly. Likewise much of the anti-welfare sentiment is fueled by a feeling that the government is simply rewarding bad behavior. This is not a belief that government is too big or too powerful but that it is misusing its power. The focus on fairness not bigness is why support for slashing Medicare’s high-cost low-efficacy cancer treatments is not statistically different than zero.
What most people want is a just government. A government that treats its people fairly. This is why, as I argued before, ethnic unity is so important. People have an innate sense that it is just to take care of their own. This isn’t “racist”, its human.
An old joke goes that a reporter asked Hilbert if it was true that only three people on earth understood General Relativity. Hilbert paused, counted himself and Einstein and then mused aloud, “I am trying to think of who the third person is.”
Are there two people on earth who do not believe that we have an obligation take care of our own, however, he or she defines “our own?” I know Bryan Caplan. I am trying to think of the second.