limited government

Amoung the framers of the US Constitution  there was an underlying apprehension regarding power. The founders acknowledged the necessity of some degree of power for a nation to thrive and succeed, yet they also recognized its potential for harm. In his autobiography, Thomas Jefferson stated that effective governance arises from the dispersion rather than the centralization of powers. Power was divided and allocated among the states and federal government, as well as among the various branches of the federal government. Limited government stood as a fundamental principle, encompassing the equilibrium between individual rights and governmental authority, as well as between the federal government and individual states. The US Constitution was intended to be a written document, distinguishing it from the unwritten British Constitution.

One of the key principles of liberal democracy is the concept of limited government. This means that the government's role should be restricted by checks and balances and a separation of powers due to the corrupting influence of power. In the United States, limited government entails that the authority of the federal government is constrained by the Constitution, preventing it from unilaterally imposing its policies on states and citizens. The Bill of Rights also safeguards against the federal government infringing on individual or state rights. Amendments like the 1st (freedom of speech) and 4th (freedom from unreasonable searches) serve to limit government power by protecting personal freedoms. The 10th Amendment specifically aims to safeguard state authority by stating that powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states or the people. Contemporary interpretations of limited government encompass the level of involvement the federal government has in social and economic policies. Conservatives, especially libertarians, advocate for reducing government intervention in areas such as spending, including welfare programs. Social initiatives are often criticized as part of an expansive government agenda, a stance that many Americans oppose.

Case study: The vaccine mandate

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Biden administration passed a vaccine mandate. This would have required employees who worked for companies that had more than 100 workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and would have affected 84 million Americans. Some states disagreed with this mandate. Kim Reynolds, the Governor of Iowa, said her state would refuse to follow the vaccine mandate: ‘We are going to continue to protect the freedoms and liberties of Iowans. The Biden administration continues to ignore the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans, which our country was built on.’ Other states, such as Arkansas, acted similarly. Ultimately, nearly half of US states sued the Biden administration over the mandate, leading to the Supreme Court striking it down in a 6–3 decision.