Is American Indian History Best Argument for Small Government?
A conservative argument that pops up from time to time is making a new round on the Internet. On January 28, writer Steve Curtis posted an article titled Why the History Of Native Americans is the Best Argument For Small Government on policymic.com in which he uses American Indian history as a way to knock progressives for their beliefs in government policies to solve some of the nation's largest problems today.
“Progressives routinely tout the advantages of bigger government, particularly for the poor. Free health care. Free education. Free housing, transportation, Obamaphones, etc. You name it, progressives will tell you it can be “free,” paid for by higher taxes on the ‘evil’ rich and ‘big corporations.’ It won’t cost you a penny. All you have to do is remove existing constraints on their power, and they will use government to provide everything you need and want.
“Historically, how has an all-powerful centralized government worked out? Especially for those to whom so much was promised? Not well at all.
“A case in point is our nation's own Native American community. Native Americans signed hundreds of treaties with both individuals and with the United States as a whole. When the national government was weak, or non-existent, treaties were generally beneficial to both sides, such as William Penn’s purchase of land from the Delaware Indians.
“However, as the strength of the United States government grew with respect to the various Indian tribes, the stronger centralized government increasingly imposed their will on the militarily weaker tribes. Most often, these treaties took the form of a transfer of ownership of the tribe’s land to the U.S. government, and the forced relocation of Native American populations to ‘reservations’ with promises to provide food, housing, goods, land, money, and protection. The reservation system also allowed those who considered themselves to be ‘more civilized’ to control the tribes ‘for their own good,’ and to help ‘civilize the savages.’
“So, how did that work out?
“In spite of written guarantees, Indian treaties have rarely been honored, and the promises of food, housing, goods, land, money, and protection have been, for the most part, ignored. After all, once the Indians gave up their land and military capability, they had no means of enforcing the terms of the treaty, so they got whatever the more powerful central government decided was ‘enough.’”
As Curtis closes his piece, he states, “Progressives are promising that big government will provide food, housing, jobs, education, an income, security, and lots of free stuff, if we just give them the unconstrained power they need.”
For many American Indians those promises sound familiar yet remain far from sight, and Curtis suggests society should explore that dilemma in contemplating its contemporary path to prosperity.
An interesting question for Curtis and others to ponder: If progressivism has been the root cause of troubles for American Indians, then why do statistics show that an overwhelming number of Indians vote Democratic? In fact, in the 2012 presidential election, the county that is home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in rural South Dakota gave the highest percentage of votes to President Barack Obama over any other county in the nation. We would love to hear what Curtis makes of that.
Read Curtis' full article here.
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