Tea Partiers and other critics of government largesse have made the Republican party ascendant just two years after its cause seemed hopeless. A clear purpose helps, and Republicans have it: stop the expansion of government. Return the country to its free-market roots. But this is a dangerous oversimplification of American history, writes David Brooks in the New York Times.
"The American story is not just the story of limited governments; it is the story of limited but energetic governments that used aggressive federal power to promote growth and social mobility," writes Brooks. The best leaders think of government power like fire: "a useful tool when used judiciously and a dangerous menace when it gets out of control." The country faces many economic, educational, and cultural challenges, and "not all of them can be addressed by the spontaneous healing powers of the market."
(Read more David Brooks stories.)