In light of protests sparked by incidents of police brutality, a friend recently bemoaned the state of our nation. He pointed with sadness to government institutions in which citizens have traditionally placed trust being revealed as untrustworthy. He seemed genuinely surprised.

He shouldn’t be.

Leftists have spent decades demanding unconditional trust in big and growing government for our safety and well-being, from cradle to grave. With each new expansion of government comes the need for more zealous enforcement of laws at the hands of an ever-growing legion of officers and agents.

After mocking our concerns about the tendency of big government to abuse liberty, the left expects conservatives to accept responsibility when bad actors – dirty cops – abuse government power to deny citizens their inalienable rights? I don’t think so.

As citizens struggle under the weight of government, we are told the solution is to make government even heavier.

Frankly, conservatives should not be surprised when government agents are oppressive. It is a problem as old as the history of government itself.

When the people of Israel sought to cast off the liberty given to them and embrace the shackles of worldly government, God told them what would happen. He warned Israel, as recorded in 1 Samuel 8, of the “ways of the king who shall reign over them” … and they were not pleasant.

God wanted His people to govern themselves under His laws. In their sin, they rejected Him in favor of a big government that would “go out and fight their battles.”

There has never in history been a small government tyrant. Every dictatorship has been built on expansive government under the guise of protecting the citizenry from some terrible foe, real or created. Tyrants use the machinery of government to brutalize those deemed unclean, unworthy, or unnecessary. And, later, to oppress those who dare question their power.

The 21st century now provides the gruesome spectacle of left-wing progressives using the nasty excesses of big government as an excuse to grow government further. We are not witnessing race riots; we are witnessing leftist agitators – often white, privileged, and powerful – using incidents of racism to justify sowing chaos in their effort to unravel our republic.

Sadly, the left’s agitation works. Too many on the right, in an almost Pavlovian response, are found siding with government institutions because they are familiar and under assault from the left. We must resist the reactionary urge to defend bloated institutions of government.

Nor should we rush to side with the leftists just because we partially agree with some of their current criticisms.
Instead, we must be true to the principles of liberty and self-governance.

Our faith and trust must not be in government’s institutions or functionaries. A self-governing people should eye with heavy suspicion every agent and officer of government – because none of us can be trusted to wield fearsome power over anyone else.

America’s second president, John Adams, wrote, “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

Government is not the solution. It has become the chief enabler and enforcer of the problems we face.

If we are to live peacefully with each other, if we are to stamp out the injustices brought on by racism and envy, if we are to rein in abusive actions by government officials, it all begins by reclaiming our founding sense of self-governance under God. The solutions to our most vexing problems come not from relying on government, but in putting our faith in the Almighty and His guidance.

We must stop outsourcing our responsibilities to the leviathan of state. We must instead take personal responsibility for our own safety and welfare, and that of our neighbors.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."