Recently a writer claimed that this election is a choice between a party that is for larger government and less freedom and one that is for less government and more freedom. But in a democracy, it is government that protects and enlarges your freedom, unless you are the meanest beast in the jungle.

Our government must be strong to protect each citizen’s civil rights and civil liberties. Government ensures economic freedom by sustaining an opportunity structure for entrepreneurs. Government is necessary to protect the health, welfare and safety of the individual citizen who, by herself, cannot guarantee these freedoms.

Government ensures an equal chance in life by providing public education, and it makes our country more competitive through good public universities, and by funding scientific and other academic research. Government ensures a just society with a body of laws and a fair and impartial judicial system. Government fights crime and provides disaster relief. Government provides parks and other public lands, along with fair regulations for access. These things are all about living free.

Government provides a strong military to protect our freedoms, and V.A. hospitals and other programs to provide the care and opportunities our veterans deserve.

It is NOT a democratically elected government that is poised to take away our guns. Rather, government acts to prevent criminals, thugs, militiamen and assorted lunatics from abusing the 2nd Amendment privilege, as it protects that privilege for law-abiding sportsmen and other citizens.

Our government ensures the free exercise of religion, but also the prohibition of any official religion (yes, even Christianity). Without a strong government protecting these principles, our freedom could be threatened with theocratic rule, as in Iran.

What divides today’s parties is what they wish government to do. Democrats see government as essential to the elements of social justice outlined above. Today’s Republican Party is more focused on social control – on regulating our sex lives, for example, from contraception to whom we may love.

As distinguished from real Republicans, today’s Republican Party is working hard in various states to suppress the vote of those groups that traditionally vote for Democrats. These small-government advocates are waging war not only against science and the rights of women, but also against such freedoms as privacy and fair elections.

This conservative war against social and economic freedom is reflected in the evident objective of Republicans in Congress to wage economic sabotage. The have largely succeeded in blocking Obama’s measures to rescue our economy.

Their transparent (and unpatriotic) hope has been that through obstruction they could facilitate economic collapse, which would defeat the president in his bid for re-election.

Our politics have devolved to where the small-government party is interested primarily in the freedom of economic predation, the freedom to intimidate fellow citizens, and the freedom to sell the government to corporations and the very wealthy.

I prefer the party of strong government to protect the human freedoms of all Americans. I have never before been this partisan, but in 2012 I will vote Democratic from the White House to the courthouse. Our American democracy is at stake.

Lawrence K. Pettit is a former political science professor and university president who is retired and lives in Helena.

(37) comments

caribouboy

Sheesh Larry, grab a coffee and reread the Constitution. While I would definitely agree that the Republicans have veered off course, your article strikes me as someone who has driven right off the a cliff. You were a teacher? Hopefully you were able to keep your belief system out of the way when you were working to educate kids.

patriot
patriot

MR. Pettit,
,Now retired and no longer a public employee you remove any semblance to apolitical nature. Your summary of democrats vs. republican or patriotic vs. unpatriotic is for lack of a better term just plain wrong. When both house of congress are controlled by different parties, especially today, passage of bills becomes more difficult. Each blame the other, a bill passed in one does not mean it will enjoy an up or down vote in the other. A stance for more government does not surprise me, neither does more handouts. But to suggest republicans are unpatriotic does cross the line of objectivity. I would have loved to attended one of you politial science classes after ten years of service.
In a short opinion peice you managed to hit every "hot button" for the progressive left patronizing to their inner belief system. Concerned conervative and moderate republicans are not tadicals or bent on destroying America but saving it from the ranting rhetoric from the likes of you. Concerned conservative Americans have not occupied public parks, demonstrated by burning or destroying property, used drugs, burned buildings, raped or murdered another but peacefully demonstrated their displeasure with the cuurent path of goverment. If you consider yourself an example of the public educator, children across America are in jeopardy of recieving a quality education. Based on your prior offerings, I already knew who you would vote for, those who agree with your summary have the same intent. If anything you may have provided a reason for the undecided to vote opposite from you. Next time start your letter with " I am a devout democrat, want more government".

FlamingLiberal1

I find it sadly typical that folks who disagree with the letter writer have resorted to ad-hominem attacks rather than trying to refute the very valid points raised. Unfortunately, that is what the right wing has done to political discourse. These aren't our parents' Republicans. I suspect even Reagan and Nixon would be tarred with the "liberal" brush and drummed out of the Republican party today. Mr. Pettit, please continue to try to educate the masses. We have gone off the deep end as a nation and we need to take America forward by applying our real core values.

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

Reagan would be welcomed. Why we might even allow JFK to join since he was a tax cutter.

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

Reagan would not be labeled liberal. But JFK would be welcomed into the Republican party because he cut taxes and liberals would throw JFK under the bus.

Unfortunately the liberals have resorted to fear mongering and rewritting history to fit their narrow mindedness.

dietz1963

Hmmm, well in the hypersensitive culture we've become, where it seems like just about everything is a danger and just about everything said offends somebody, not sure where government is ensuring freedoms are kept. Its a catch 22. Take freedom of religion for example. To me that means freedom to practice it where ever one chooses. That is not true in this day and age is it? There was a time where you would see crosses around just about everywhere, now they are taken down due to a new understanding of church and state. I.E. if the cross is not on church grounds, it has become a violation of the constitution? Well, where is the freedom of relgion then? Remember how it used to be at many functions an invocation (prayer) before some events? Those days are by and large gone due to the possibility of "offending" either someone of muslim faith or someone that doesn't believe in religion. How about freedom of expression? I've read stories where students wear shirts with American flags and depending on the school, have nixed that due to other students being offended or considered racist? Huh? So where is the freedom of speech (or expression) here? What I see, in the interest of protecting people for reasons of health, safety or offending someone, more laws are created instead of less. More laws to me appear to be reduction in freedoms verses keeping them or increasing them. Look at the most recent law passed by Congress, the Affordable Heath Care Act. Now you must have insurance or...pay at tax time. Where is the freedom in that? Whats next, a law telling me to buy food and what food I can buy in light of the obese epidemic we have now a days? Some state just outlawed large sodas. Sign of things to come?

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

He must have never taught history. If he had he would have known that your own government is more likely to take away your freedoms and kill you than a foreign goverment. Governments are only good when limited and well controled by the people.

Too big a government is always a disastor waiting for the right time.

FlamingLiberal1

There certainly are a lot of paranoid, anti-government wingnuts around here exercising their first amendment rights, granted by the US government. It's mildly ironic.

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

Wrong again. Self evident rights granted by our creator.

lampropeltis

MtMadeMan,

Philosophers have argued about what rights we ought to have for thousands of years. What rights should be is hardly obvious. If God has told us what our rights ought to be, then we would have to accept the justness of monarchy, slavery, genocide, polygamy, killing disrespectful children, and more. To acknowledge that we have a different concept of ideal rights today is to completely surrender the claim that our ideal rights come from God.

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

lampropelitis,
I was replying to FL1 assertion that the government gave us these rights. The Declaration of Independence disagrees with him. Your journey into the esoteric is a distraction and not relevant.

Rights given by government can be taken away by government.

dietz1963

It is what it is FL. On another post you were commenting on the recent law struck down by Cebull. A law that puts limits on campaign contributions (which I agree with). It is still a law, and essentially caps what a person can give on contributions. Thats not hampering freedom? That like saying you are free to move around in the cage so to speak. Thats what laws do. Think about the laws of today verses, say, 50 years ago. Anything that gets too restrictive, regardless of reason, is still a form of freedom reduction.

jgrdh11
jgrdh11

If America could financially afford to provide more and more of these entitlement programs, I might not like it, but I could live with it. The problem is that we cannot continue to spend money at this pace. For example, why in the world are we borrowing money from China in order to provide food, housing and medical care for Mexican citizens?? Or, how about the billions in "support" that we are sending to these North African countries that HATE America. We have to stop spending this money before it's too late.

Independentminded

Why are we borrowing money from China to wage war?

Limber
Limber

You are right! Spending cuts along with cuts in tax loopholes are needed. That is why bipartisan solutions like simpson-Bowles or Obama's 'grand bargain' are so important. So, here's another rhetorical question: Why are we the only major industrial nation that needs super carrier groups (11)? And why do we have zero miles of fast train rail of the world wide total 18,000 miles? And why do I spend twice as much on my tas dollar on defense as the average Brit and five times as much as the average German (who enjoys better roads and trains).

Reasonable

Today’s Republican Party is in fact more focused on regulating our sex lives, contraception, whether or not a woman has the final say about her body, whom we may love, attempts to restrict groups from voting that are unfavorable to them, see's compromise as unacceptable if it is outside their fundamental beliefs, seeks political purity, and more.

This is more the Tea Parties influence than traditional Republicans, but they are gaining momentum.

A little too close to the beliefs of the Taliban for me to remain affiliated.

Limber
Limber

that's reasonable

Agent Smith
Agent Smith

Montanans aren't as simple minded as they appear to be, are they Mr. Pettit?

MichaelS

wow. larry make sure you stay retired.

MtMadeMan
MtMadeMan

Will the Helena IR let me have over 500 words to rebut this partisan fabrication?

skooter
skooter

My questions would be could you HONESTLY and FACTUALLY do so in 500 or 2million words?

lampropeltis

As neo-cons shift further to the right (become increasingly partisan) they risk alienating a growing majority of Americans. We're already seeing the fruits of their hard-lining. In national elections, i.e. presidential elections, their chances of victory shrink as the generational and cultural shift in America becomes evident. It is why, Obama, even with less than stellar economic metrics, is beating the electoral pants off Romney. Republicans, with their old and tired ideas, without embracing science, personal freedom, and an greater cultural diversity, will find it increasingly more difficult to compete on the presidential stage.

Look at recent polls on social and economic issues, this country is in fact center-left, not center-right as the old narrative describes.

A majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal (with some regulations), that we SHOULD regulate greenhouse gas emissions (because global warming is a real problem), there should be some restrictions on owning guns, illegal aliens should have a path to legal residency, approve of labor unions, approve of legal same sex marriages, feel religion should stay out of politics, etc. ((http://pollingreport.com/)

Indeed the demographics on the national stage are shifting (thankfully) and the current republican party appears to be on the dwindling side of that shift. They'll either be forced to adapt and embrace the changing electorate or risk morphing from an elephant into a dinosaur.

patriot
patriot

Lamp,
Your comments are interesting, inciteful and typical of someone frustrated with current events, regardless of politcal afiliation. The majority of American are moderate, not right or left but center. Social and economic concerns confront us all, right now the coming election finds our nation pretty much split. Your issues are a knee jerk reaction to your hot buttons. For instance, environmental issue sould be dealt with concern for all and not at the risk of destrowing our economy. I'll stay away from the abortion issue, never could quite grasp the taking of an innocent life for expediency or convenience. Illegal immigration,we have laws and a process. We have laws separating churchand state. We have laws for gun ownership. most choose to obey. As far as demographics, well, you are in the minority, thank goodness. Let the process work.

lampropeltis

Patriot,

My hot button issues are definitely not the social issues I've stated. My point was the republican platform is on the wrong side of the majority. As for demographics, I have scientific polling data to back up my statements, and alot of it, that shows empirically Americans are left of center. If you have any data to the contrary I'd love to see them.

Independentminded

I read your posts on this forum all the time but I don't believe you are a moderate.

steeline

I am glad that Mr. Pettit is retired. He must have done a good job of teaching his views, cause there are a lot of people who believe his nonesense. However, the majority of the American public is smart enough to see past this BS and will refuse to go along with it. We have to get America Right and we will have a new President come November. It's a sure thing.

lampropeltis

Really? Every poll that's considered even halfway credible shows a rather fair electoral college margin for Obama. Yes, even after the debate. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but the swing state math isn't adding up to equal your absolute confidence.

And really, you can't even begin to see the current state of politics through Mr. Pettit's lens? You can't begin to see how Mr Pettit has formulated his viewpoint based on the evidence he presents? I feel he makes a rather compelling argument and presents real facts to support his claims.

lampropeltis

Patriot said: "Concerned conservative Americans... peacefully demonstrate their displeasure with the current path of government."

I'll play your silly game of making sweeping generalizations.

Here's a full account of "peacefully" demonstrating right-wingers. Remember Tim McVeigh? I'm sure you just forgot just how much of a "concerned conservative" he was.

Here's a few dozen other examples of peace lovin righties.
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/terror-from-the-right

patriot
patriot

Lamp,
Went to your link. Interesting, but not a surprise you would tie extremists acts to one side. These individuals and groups are simply criminals engaging in a criminal activity, the same thing can be said for the left. However, either side represents a very small minority of indiviuals not representative of liberal or conservativenor moderate. Those who identify as a "tea party supporter" are peacefully demonstrating their displeasure with an over reaching government. Those who identify with the OWS group seem to condone random acts of law breaking. But that may be a generalization as well, just my perception. The election is less than a month away, it will be close. It will indicate the divide we have in America regardless who wins. Our president is not bringing us together but driving the wedge deeper. His issues are "hot buttons" like yours meant to garner your vote. As for Mr. Pettit, I do not see his letter as compelling, but just another attempt to make his case that government must be in control of our lives, because a public bureaucrat must know better. I'll put in the Obama column. I fully admit my thoughts are rhetorical, now go back to your inernet search and you will find a like amount of violent acts perpetrated by a so called progressive of left leaning liberal. Violence on either side has no place in America.

dietz1963

I agree, just criminals. McVeigh was considered to have right wing views and was a registered republican. Remember Loughner? Now he was considerred to have left wing views and was a registered independant. If we want to go on radicality as far as representation of a political party or even a religious belief then are terrorists a good representation of muslim belief? I don't believe that, nor do I believe that Mcveigh protrays right wing anymore then Loughner protrays left wing.

dietz1963

Not sure the president is driving a wedge, media maybe. I thought (for example) the catagories of voters might be republican, democrat and independant. Well, I've heard of Latino voters, LGBT voters, African American voters, women voters....now wonder there is a wedge. No one seems to be just a regular voter anymore, there are special voting groups aparently..

5thgen

lampropeltis - You really should be ashamed of yourself for comparing the Tea Party to these criminal acts and these criminals, there are nut jobs on both the right and left, they don't represent either side, just their own self serving belief's and they don't care who they hurt to promote them. That's why they are labeled domestic terrorists. I think you will find if you actually study the Tea Party and their demonstrations, they are mostly peaceful. The occupy group has had some pretty bad crimes take place during their domonstrations, not all of them of course, however they really don't seem to have someone attempting to lead them. Some appear to be nothing more people showing up for a party to get some free food and anything else they can get or steal. I often question if they truly believe in what they are protesting. However if they follow the law they certainly have the right to protest and many Americans have given it all to keep that right in place.

vhenderson

He stated it well. All of you use the government to suit your own needs. Especially here in Helena.

Agent Smith
Agent Smith

The only people responsible for that are the city leaders.

steeline

I think I can understand the behavior of the "New Left". When they voted for Obama they really believed that the guy could and would do what he said. Now those who voted for the guy are disappointed, embarassed amongst the population for buying the "Obama line" and are down right angry. Kinda like a kid that finds out that there is no Santa Clause. They will be the "Closet Republican Voters" who will put Romney over the top this year. Yet there are a few, to many, that still think America is going in the right direction with Obama. However, we have to get America Right for the good of all.

WalleyeHunter

Everyone benefits from a well-run government. Efficient, responsive, effective. I'll pay my share if it keeps the peace, keeps on top of the trash, and puts our fires out, etc.

Of course, when government is under the "control" (a matter of perception and more based on knee-jerk assessment than actual understanding of government in the US) of the other party it is viewed as the institutional equivalent of the antichrist. When you are fond of the party who controls both Chambers and the Presidency (or even one Chamber and the Presidency) you don't see things in the same light.

It would be nice to move past the soundbites and have informed debates. The ideologues in both parties are opposed to that, of course.

Agent Smith
Agent Smith

Now that you know that folks in this state aren't simpletons, another bit of info to help you better understand them, Mr. Pettit, is that they're not fools either.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.