"The two problems here are, first, that while they (tea party supporters) think they owe government nothing, they actually owe government a great deal. If they're small business people, they depend on the freight rails and the roadways and the utilities and the regulation of interstate commerce and the laws that keep their crooked competitors from undercutting them and the courts' abilities to enforce those laws. Without question the government is an annoyance in their lives in dozens of ways. But they don't see any of the good, only the bad. If you tote it up, the government helps them a lot more than it hurts them, and if they think not, let them go open a hardware store in downtown Mogadishu and see how that works out.
The second problem is the one I saw manifest at that dinner that night. Everybody in this country isn't like you. Yes, you worked hard to get where you are. But the vast majority of people work hard. Some have good luck, some have bad. Some stay healthy, some get sick. Some make only wise decisions, some make an unwise one. Some benefit from free-market oddities and inequities, some lose. And yes, some, because of history or birth circumstances, started the race at a starting line several paces back from the one where you started. Part of citizenship, a crucial part of citizenship, is standing in their shoes for a few moments – as they must stand in yours, and understand your point of view too."
The thing that is so surprising about certain folks' polarized views about what government can be used for is that it is so short-sighted, and seems to indicate a certain amount of self-distrust. Every relationship need not be of a parent/child nature. Government is a tool; you can use a hammer to bash someone's head in, sure, but most often, hammers are used productively. To drive in nails. To build.
Now, the skill level of the craftsman using the hammer is a completely different matter, but we need to be more conscious of false choices that certain members of the media (whose job security depends on you accepting their premise) present us with. It's not 'Government is the Savior versus Government is Cthulhu', as Glenn Beck would have you believe. It's 'Can government assist us in this task, or can it not?'
Trust me; my choice structure will be much more useful to you than Glenn Beck's will (although it may put Glenn out of a job).