Counterpoint: Good governance includes, yes, a certain amount of government

  • Updated: May 23, 2014 - 6:30 PM

In its purest form, support for limited government borders upon absurdity.


Photo: Gary Markstein • Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/MCT,

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When I read Craig Westover’s “Limited government — as principle, not pandering” (May 19), all I could think about was a bill by my state representative, Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park.

The bill essentially takes firearms away from domestic abusers. It is a fantastic piece of legislation and policy inspired in part by Schoen’s work as a police officer in Cottage Grove. In 2012, a domestic abuser there shot and killed his estranged wife in front of a local mini-mall before killing himself.

The bill had strong bipartisan support and was signed into law. I worked on Schoen’s campaign, and this is the type of bill I hope for when I volunteer for a candidate.

But according to Westover’s “get government out of the way” principle, the bill should never have become law, simply because it expands the size of government. It is more government control and takes away the freedom of domestic abusers who would not kill their children or spouses. And, according to the principle, it is essentially only feel-good legislation, because an abuser could just get a knife or other weapon and kill anyway.

And it is far from the only bill that would be considered illegitimate. In 2008, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (a Tea Party darling whom Westover, as a delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention, supported for president) cast the only “no” vote against a bill to ban lethal lead from toys and give more scrutiny to toys. Why? Because — on that less-government-at-all-costs principle — it expands the size of government, and any law that expands the size of government is wrong.

Yes, you can have too much government control, as seen in autocracies and dictatorships across the world. But this principle of limited government is just as dangerous in its purest form. Less government at all costs puts public safety at risk.

Dan Schoen got it right. The new law will protect other victims from being shot. It will ensure that domestic abuse or hurting others will come with a penalty.

Good policy like this does not come from ideological principles. It comes from the heart.


William Cory Labovitch is a political activist in South St. Paul.

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