Whenever someone asks a
conservative what exactly they believe, they predictably bring up a sound byte
most of them don't give a second thought: "smaller government".
problem with this sound byte is that it isn't really a conservative belief. It is only something they give lip service to
and it is designed specifically to avoid talking about what they really believe.
What conservatives really believe, simply put, is that that the sole role of
government is to "protect property", which means their idea of government is
nothing more than police and a military. Their vision of government is little
more than a king and his army. If they can't see a King doing it, they consider
it an "entitlement" and don't want the American government doing it. They can't
imagine a King providing unemployment insurance, social security or health
insurance so they oppose all the American government doing any of those
things. The problem with that is the preamble
of the Constitution specifically states the purpose of our government is to do
a lot more than merely protecting property, like providing for the general
welfare, but conservatives who claim to support the Constitution conveniently
ignore that fact.
The reality is, during the last decade, conservative Republicans oversaw the largest expansion of the federal government since the New Deal. They created a brand new massive government bureaucracy, the department of homeland security. They also started not one, but two multi-trillion dollar unfunded and unending wars. Then they also passed another massive corporate welfare package, Medicare Part D, also unpaid for. So despite their rhetoric, what America actually gets when we elect Republicans is a LOT more government and a LOT more government debt, but since their expansions are in the narrow realm of what they think government should do, police and military, they have no problems with massively expanding the size and cost of government. Predictably, as soon as the newly elected administration started talking about reforming health insurance, something conservatives don't think government should do, they pretended to be outraged at the national debt and refuse to admit their own role in growing it to its current size.
Consider that military spending in all its forms now constitutes 53.3% of total US federal spending. Consider that we have over 140 military bases on foreign soil, many of which serve no purpose except to cost us trillions and anger the locals as was the case with the Saudis who attacked us on 09-11-2001. We have an easy and obvious path to save trillions of dollars but conservatives oppose any cuts to military spending. Conservatives talk a lot about smaller government but they know to actually do it would negatively affect millions of average Americans, making it political suicide, therefore after a decade of being in control of all three branches of government they utterly failed to deliver on it.
The reality is that liberals are the ones who truly want smaller government and are willing to make that happen.