I was really happy the other day, because I got some feedback from a reader about how she enjoyed seeing the more moderate, centrists takes I give on policy, and it got me thinking a little more about what being a centrist is about, and how centrism is about positivity in politics. I want to discuss that a little more today.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I interned last summer in Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s office. It was there where I finally got to see the work of government up close and see the impact it makes on people. It’s not the terrible, negative structure of society that it is often made out to be in popular culture, and even by many who run the government. Instead, it’s a beautiful structure that is critical to keeping us safe and free, while providing supports to society that no other structure has the capacity to do. Here’s why:
Often, we think about government as a big picture idea. We see the large bureaucracy and long processes to get just the little things done. But it’s so much more than that. Government is our roads and bridges and highways. Government is our schools. Government is our sewage systems. Government is our regulators who keep you safe from dangerous toxins in foods and away from predatory banking practices. Government is our safety net for those who aren’t as fortunate. And government is what keeps us united.
It’s more often than not that government doesn’t do a great job of what it’s supposed to do. In Colorado, our roads aren’t kept in the greatest shape. Sometimes it’s a bit of a pain to get a driver’s license (I would know, every time people had a problem I got a phone call for 4 months). Medicaid payments don’t make their way out to doctor’s offices as quickly as they should.
But I want everyone to imagine life without our government doing the essential tasks it does. What if all of our roads were private, and big corporations forced you to pay a toll to get from your house to work? Imagine that there were no social safety nets, and we just let lower-income people get sick and die because they couldn’t afford healthcare. What if people could just get in a car and drive without being tested to prove they could do it? What if corporations could sell you anything at all, without regulations to keep you safe from poisons? What if there were no cops or firefighters, and crime wasn’t stopped and if your house caught fire it just burned down and that was that?
Government does things that all of us disagree with. I don’t like how big our military is and how much intervening we do in the actions of other countries. Some people don’t agree with regulations or the size of social safety nets. But at the end of the day, government’s always going to be there, doing incredibly important work. It can always do more. It could sometimes do a little less. But next time you criticize the government as a whole, remember the important work it’s doing.