The idea that most voters hate government has an outsize influence on the thinking of both parties. Republicans try to exploit this feeling; Democrats try to get around it.

Only rarely do those who believe in active government take the argument head-on and insist that many of the things government does are necessary and, yes, good. The media almost never discuss what the sweeping dismantling of public services inherent in the rhetoric of the anti-government movement would mean in practice. It’s far easier to replay footage from a few tea-party rallies over and over, and discuss some vague “mood” in the electorate.