Iva Deutchman, professor of political science, was quoted in an article, “How much government is too much?” in Messenger Post newspapers last week. The article discussed government mistrust and looked at recent government actions within Ontario County including the installation of radio water meters and digital fingerprinting of town computers.
“Distrust of the government may have intensified this year because Democrats control Washington,” said Iva Deutchman, political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. “When they look at a government where all branches are controlled by the Democrats, it definitely makes them more anxious.”
The article goes on to note, “While conservatives talk about getting government out of people’s lives, Deutchman said, many of them overlook their own opposition to abortion. ‘If you want to talk about government, how about outlawing abortion,’ she asked. ‘The government would have to make sure every single pregnancy was carried through to birth. That would be a police state.'”
Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. She is a professor of 20 plus years who has worked on two continents (Australia and North America). Deutchman has a long list of publications in major journals, the latest of which are “Fundamentalist Christians, Raunch Culture and Post-industrial Capitalism,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Summer 2008, and “Five Factions, Two Parties: Caucus Membership in the House of Representatives, 1994- 2002,” Congress and the Presidency, 36:62-84, 2009 (with colleague DeWayne Lucas).
The full article follows.
How much government is too much?
Mike Maslanik & Philip Anselmo • Jan 21, 2010
There was something about the village of Victor’s request that rubbed Randy Shea the wrong way.
In September, the village sent Shea, 45, a letter asking him to let workers into his West Main Street home to install a new, radio-controlled water meter they said will make it easier to take readings. Shea, however, contended that his outdoor water meter has worked well enough for 13 years and initially refused to have it changed.
Eventually, he relented – after the village warned him that it would shut off his water if he did not comply.
“The principle of the thing is a big deal; the issue of it is not,” Shea said.
Village Mayor John Holden said the water meter change was not about government intrusion, but about providing a basic service.
“The village provides water service to its residents, and it is our obligation to provide them with accurate readings,” Holden said. “We do that by updating the water meters on a regular basis.”
Going to far?
Shea describes himself as a pro-life Democrat, but said he might change his affiliation soon. While he believes government has a legitimate obligation to build roads, employ police and provide national defense, he’s leery about the bank bailouts and the proposed health-care reform package.
Shea’s discomfort speaks to a larger concern brewing around the country about what many feel to be too much government intervention into citizens’ lives. The sentiment became evident over the summer at raucous town hall meetings where people loudly registered their objections to health-care reform efforts.
Television, talk radio and the Internet abound with screeds against a perceived “socialist” takeover of banks, car companies and hospitals. The so-called “tea party movement” is predicated on, among other things, keeping government out of the economy and health care.
In New York state, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman was nearly elected to the 23rd Congressional District on the strength of an anti-government message and support from tea-party activists. Although Hoffman lost the campaign, his candidacy became a rallying cry for residents who believe the government is going too far.
In the town of Canandaigua, a computer forensics firm, whose staff includes ex-FBI agents, paid a visit to Town Hall earlier this month to take digital fingerprints of the hard drives of all the computers.
Many on town staff were asked to also bring in their personal computers from home to be examined. Canandaigua town Supervisor Sam Casella said he hasn’t heard any complaints from staff about the searches.
The move was required, staffers were told, because of a federal lawsuit filed against the town by one of its former attorneys, Michael Jones Jr. Jones’ suit, filed in federal court in November, alleges “public slander” and seeks $10 million in damages.
Former interim town Supervisor Jim Fralick, who had alerted staffers to the computer searches, said no one was forced to bring in their personal computer.
He explained that, at a later date, the firm will perform searches on the accumulated data for certain “keywords” related to the investigation of evidence. The firm will even be able to recover “deleted” files, he said.
Distrust of the government may have intensified this year because Democrats control Washington, said Iva Deutchman, political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.
“When they look at a government where all branches are controlled by the Democrats, it definitely makes them more anxious,” Deutchman said.
Although intellectual conservative leaders expressed concern about government expansion under President George W. Bush, such as the Medicare prescription drug plan and the No Child Left Behind Act, the grassroots were fairly silent.
Deutchman chalked that silence up to the post-9/11 rallying effect that caused many people to look past these actions or, in the case of warrantless wiretapping, accept them as a way to keep Americans safe.
While conservatives talk about getting government out of people’s lives, Deutchman said, many of them overlook their own opposition to abortion.
“If you want to talk about government, how about outlawing abortion,” she asked. “The government would have to make sure every single pregnancy was carried through to birth. That would be a police state.”
Shea agreed that many of the problems of encroaching government are the fault of both parties.
“Our rights have been eroded by both sides,” he said.
Elections and trust
As the nation heads into the 2010 mid-term elections, the Republican Party has engaged in an “uncivil war” about how to harness the anti-government sentiment, Deutchman said.
“There are some people in the party and affiliated with the party who insist on ideological purity,” she said. “A political party, though, by definition cannot be pure if it wants to win.”
If the Democrats want to stay in power, they need to show that their policies bring results, Deutchman.
“One of the things that would help is if people are able to see health care prices going down,” she said. “Show me that government works.”
As for Shea, he said he wants the government to just do its job and stay out of his business.
“It used to be, the more liberty the better,” Shea said. “Now, people are going along with the more government the better.”