It is fashionable these days for candidates of every party and persuasion to laud smaller government, but smaller is not necessarily less bossy. The issue is less the size and cost of government — important as that is — but how intrusive it shall be
During the recent gubernatorial campaign, for example, the candidates participated in a debate during which they were asked about "partial birth abortions." Actually, they were asked what role government should play in determining whether such procedures could legally be performed. Libertarian Steve Dillon and Democrat Frank O’Bannon gave what civil libertarians believe to be the appropriate response: that such decisions, however morally reprehensible some may consider them, should be make by the women involved, in consultation with their physicians, pastors and families. Republican Steve Goldsmith, responding with what the Indianapolis Star termed "moral outrage," declared that the abortion procedure should be outlawed.
Arguments about the proper use of state power are entirely appropriate. There are many good people who feel that government ought to legislate matters of personal morality or even matters of taste. I do not agree with that point of view, but it is certainly held by many in our society, and it deserves to be addressed honestly. Rather than making indiscriminate references to "values" and "morality," our politicians need to define the differences between public and private morality; between civic virtue and personal behavior. People of good will may certainly differ over where to draw those lines, but at least we will all be talking about the same issue. And that issue is the authority of government to compel a variety of personal and economic behaviors.