The question of what the form and shape of the Federal Government should be comes down to one simple question. What is the purpose of the Federal Government? This question seems complex, but it is really quite simple. Does the Government hold a responsibility TO the American People, or FOR the American People?
The assumption by most on the progressive end of things is that the government holds a responsibility FOR the American people. This isn't a new theory, in fact, it goes back to the very roots of what we might call government. When one ape decided to lead the group, it was for the advancement, and protection of the group as a whole. Kings and Emperors existed to rule the realm, not for the benefit of any ideal, but for the benefit of the realm itself. Things like divine right, and so forth are merely excuses to protect the power that they held. Certainly one can make the excellent point that no such high ideal was at the forefront of these rulers, but this was certainly the base argument behind their purpose. This is what, in fact, makes the American experiment such a radical, and new idea in the history of human civilization. Anyone even briefly familiar with the intent of our founders understands that their intent was to create a land more beholden to the principle of self-governance, than anything else. This is not debated by any but the most simple and ignorant.
The difference between the idea that Government's responsibility is TO the People, or FOR the People is hinged on this idea. The Government either exists to fulfill a particular role as a servant of the people, or it exists to rule them for their own (greater) good. In this instance, it is whether the government CREATES the law in order to give the people what it thinks they need, or whether it exists to PROTECT the existing law, in order to allow them to achieve what THEY think they need. If the Government has a responsibility TO the people, it establishes the same rules for everyone, and only limits the rights of some the people in order to preserve the rights of other people. In other words, it exists to maintain a level playing field, where the only advantage is what you, as an individual, create for yourself. Everybody playing by the same rules. But if, as the progressives believe, the Government is responsible FOR the people, then you aren't managing the playing field at all, you are adjusting the rules to protect the majority, and guarantee equal results. To this end, they are the creators of the law, rather than it's preservers.
Like with any good debate, both sides have their pros and cons. A Government responsible FOR the people will, in theory, guarantee that everybody arrives at the same destination, it prohibits failure, and it maintains that nobody can be "victimized" by bad luck, lack of skill, or lack of ambition. Unfortunately, this requires certain adjustments to their role, and their methods. Government must view all people as members of groups, and not individuals. This is simply the only way to maintain that the larger group is mostly equal in outcome. You can no longer effectively oversee every case, you have to generalize people and adjust the statistics. This is pure practicality, no way around it. This means that rights are guaranteed to the group, as a whole, but cannot be guaranteed to any individual. Thus you prohibit things like luck, circumstance, and ability from tipping the scales. It ruins the curve that way. Unfortunately, the reality of this world is that you are dealing with finite amounts of "success" to spread around an increasingly large group. Simply put, there isn't enough to go around, and thus it cannot be left "up for grabs." This, effectively, means that the only equal result you can achieve is mediocrity. Since no system is perfect, and the results would obviously be less than ideal, you are looking at something slightly better than absolute squalor at best. This can be seen in any situation where the Big Government archetype has been used, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Europe is accelerating towards it rapidly (look at French schools which are absolutely free, but some of the most mediocre in the world.).
This also invites the possibility (extreme likelihood) of abuse. On one hand, someone must, by definition, be in charge of doling out the "success," and thus is capable of manipulating it towards their own purposes, being either greed, or for something maybe less nefarious, like taking a little off the top to buy their children a flat-screen. It also effectively rewards failure. Simply put, who wants to go to work when you can still be supported by not going. Even if you are somehow forced to go, why put in more than a nominal effort, if you are going to get just as far. Remember, aside from a managerial government position, there simply isn't enough "success" to reward hard work, and still maintain a passable standard of living for those who legitimately fail (let alone those who work the system).
This, of course, brings us to the idea that Government might be responsible TO the People. Naturally, there are failings to this system as well. In fact, there's a big one. Some people will fail. Some people, by luck, circumstance, lack of skill or ambition, will not be able to achieve good results. Some will fail even though they gave it their all, and some will fail because they didn't. This isn't a happy thing, but it is the reality of the system. Just because you've loosed the chains of government does not mean that resources become limitless, and rewards plentiful. Certainly one might argue that the success of the wealthy will grow the economy, and increase the available jobs/money/homes/healthcare/food, but it just isn't possible to increase it enough to make everyone wealthy, no matter what. There's no way to do that.
That doesn't mean that there is no real benefit to this system. This system does guarantee individual freedom, up and to a fairly unreasonable extent. Unless your pursuit of happiness absolutely denies someone else their's, it's really up to you how you live your life. This is guaranteed by our founding documents, and given weight by the documented intentions of our founders. This also guarantees the POSSIBILITY of great success, based on merit. If you are the best, you can get paid the best, and buy the best for yourself. It also, if applied based on our founding documents, guarantees that the Government cannot take away any of your rights. This is because your rights are granted by none other than God.
Now don't be scared off by all this religious talk. This isn't just a statement about this being a country founded on spirituality. It was, but that's no the point. It's a statement of such pure and logical practicality that it cannot be denied. Our founder's invoked the power, name and intent of none other than the most powerful authority known to man because they did, in fact, believe that they were serving God's will in this endeavor. Christianity (the religion of the founder's) is based on the ideas of free will and the choice of salvation. You damn yourself by not believing in Christ, and in order for this to work, you MUST have the freedom to believe or disbelieve this. It is an individual salvation based on your own individual freedom. Naturally, the most Christian way to run a government would be to allow for absolute freedom and liberty, so long as it doesn't destroy the system, or take away the freedom and liberty of others. But this isn't the practical benefit of such a system. It's a spiritual benefit, and I, as a spiritual person, think that's the best part. But I also realize that it serves a much more functional purpose. It makes the founding principles unassailable. If God is the one who created and demanded these rights, then what man could possibly be allowed to change them, take them away, or grant you any further? That would be heresy. At best, such a person would be a false profit, and at worst... I don't know, the devil? This effectively means that no FUTURE statesman can even make the argument that there is any other way to go about things. God gives the rights, not you, little man. At least you can't do that HERE.
This is why it is so important for progressives to eliminate God, the founder's, and the founding documents in order for them to get their way. The system simply cannot provide for any of the changes central to their beliefs. The government MUST be small, because it was created small. It's laws must remain limited, and small in scope because that was how it was intended. The constitution makes it plain that individuals have the most power in this system, and the further the law goes away from the individual, the LESS restrictive the laws must become. Sure, there are some things you can do on the state level. You can restrict things more easily there, and the further down you go, the more restriction you can put in place. Not to the extent that you violate people's God given rights, but up to that point it's fair game. The Founder's WANTED you to be able to choose the circumstances you put in place around yourself, and to protect that, they made it so that the further that choice got from you, the less it could restrict. If YOU personally want to live to the absolute letter of the most restrictive religious, dogmatic law you can find, DO IT. To a lesser extent you can put these laws in place in your own home. The more people the law includes, the less restrictive it can be (exponentially so, in this case). Individual>Family>City>County>State etc...
There is no question that this is the intent of the Founder's with their founding documents. "This is a nation of laws, not of men" said John Adams, and he was right. God granted these laws (according to them, mind you, I won't try and account for His ideas on the matter), and those laws are as they stand, in spite of the goings on, intentions, evolutions, and plans of men.
I think it's obvious which idea is better. Sure, it's not fair. But Fair is a subjective term. It is impossible to define on a large scale (without blatant hypocrisy), and even more impossible to implement. The progressives only have one thing to argue with. Theory. In every case, Big Government, authoritarianism, and social control have failed. They argue that no experiment has been successful, because the letter of the theory has not been followed. You can argue this, but you can't back it up without assuming that the experiment has always been corrupted by outside forces, and this, in and of itself, ought to tell you something about the viability of that theory. We have to deal with historical precedent, and the evidence it provides. And the weight of both lay heavily on the side of the founder's idea.
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I Hate You All,