Beyond education, has there ever been a period in our national life when the federal government was, or ought to have been “inconsequential” in our lives? Tariffs protected our “infant industries”; industry and settlement followed navigable rivers, then railroads, then the Interstate Highway System; Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Muscle Shoals and countless other projects brought electricity into millions of homes, bringing millions of Americans out of the dark ages.
Millions of World War II veterans, otherwise shut out of from higher education, used the GI Bill to reach the middle class, and found suburban homes courtesy of federally-subsidized mortgages…
For me, the larger issue is how deep the disdain for all things Washington has grown. To argue that the federal government has grown too large and too distant is one thing Robert F. Kennedy, for example, made this argument often during his last years.
To argue that there is nothing of moment that Washington should be doing marks a version of that argument that is nothing short of astonishing.