They seemingly want the nation to return to the type of country it was under the Articles of Confederation. Well, the Framers believed that this was a bad idea. So, as much as the conservatives lament the passage of a imagined fantasy land when the states, as provided by the Constitution, were all-powerful, history has involved an expansion of federal powers. And each generation has inscribed this expansion in the Constitution.
After the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, the next expansion in federal power came with the Civil War. Although conservatives want the states alone to determine the scope of important rights (e.g., Paul saying the states should decide abortion and sexual orientation issues), the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly limits the power of states with respect to substantive liberties, due process, equal protection and privileges and immunities. The Constitution also expands federal power with the Sixteenth Amendment, which gives Congress the power to tax income.
Conservatives have blatantly lied about history. Although they argue that the country was always -- until recently -- one of a very limited national government, the historical record shows that people in each generation of American history have generally favored more government due to the benefits that it brings to the People.
Rather than debating "whether" the government has a role in our lives, we should work together to identity issues that are suitable for governmental support and involvement. Instead, conservatives basically abhor anything at the federal level -- except for the military. While many liberals tend to think that a government-private sector collaboration is inherently suspicious - even though some of the most heralded liberal policies (like Medicare) involve a partnership with private entities.
This stalemate is extremely frustrating - particularly for those of us who have actual knowledge about history. The stalemate is also troublesome because it wastes precious time that we could spend mending the poor state of the country. And -- yes -- the government has a role in this as well.
So, here is a challenge to conservatives: Please name ONE (just one) country that has relative wealth, a democratic government, a good healthcare system, an educational system that provides basic early education for all residents, and a system of government that at least formally values due process, equal protection and civil liberty --- while at the same time having a central government that provides no services to the public -- except for national defense, that does not spend money to assist states with social services, and in which the people believe that government services are unhelpful, wrong, harmful to society, and a sign of totalitarianism.
TAKE A MINUTE. THINK. AND GET BACK TO ME.