People may define the term in many different ways, but how it's actually used by everybody used boils down to one thing --

"Big government" is "government that does things I don't approve of".

And the opposite is of course "small government" -- "government that doesn't do things I don't approve of".
The Republicans say that the Democrats are the party of "big government", but the Republicans want to limit what we can do in the bedroom, they want a huge military, they're worried about which bathrooms we use ... who's the party of "big government" again?


The Democrats say that the Republicans are the party of "big government", but the Democrats want socialized healthcare, to keep God out of our schools, to open our borders, to have massive welfare programs ... who's the party of "big government" again?
by dougmc December 6, 2018
Get the Big Government mug.
A conservative who backs the enactment of invasive, usually expensive laws which allow for the government to regulate or micromanage the behavior, relationships or identity of private citizens, or to prohibit government recognition of certain of these traits, based upon the need to "preserve" said individual's idealized "natural" or "godly" order for society (or to create social programs - usually of the "feel good" type - pursuant to such ideals of a "Moral Majority").

Usually a conservative who uses a religious case or justification for why the government must pass legislation (or engage in international conflicts, such as the "War on Drugs") in order to play "moral police" with the citizenry or world.

Such conservatives' self-described credentials as "conservative" are often questioned or sometimes rejected by fiscal conservatives and right-libertarians (including the Grover Norquist anti-tax types) because of such programs take up fiscal resources for potentially never-ending or unwinnable wars. Of course, when culture wars are being fought both in the US and abroad by non-government entities (such as churches), the fiscal conservatives and libertarians are often quiet and compliant for as long as *government* money is not being directed to such wars; the richer of the BGSCs (e.g., Pat Robertson) have free license to carry out such wars.
"The social conservative leaders who advocate using government to achieve their aims always push the GOP to embrace big government whenever the GOP takes power. Here's how it works:

1. Republicans gain control based on promises of limited government.

2. We get a few years of somewhat limited government, especially if the president is a Democrat.

3. We then watch the biggest statists in America -- big government social conservatives -- demand that the federal government "do something" about every perceived social ill in America.

4. We then watch the GOP respond to social con threats by becoming 100% statist. Every time the GOP gains ascendancy, it eventually decides it ought to use the power of the federal government to force "conservative" (in quotes because big government is never conservative) goals. It assumes that other conservatives will just toe the line (like the OP suggests).

5. Voters then kick the GOP out of power.

6. We then watch the GOP at least pretend to believe in small government (many in the coalition will simply wish to limit power of Dems, thus forming an accidental coalition).

7. Repeat"

-- Rich Muny, (Breitbart-owned outlet)
by RayneVanDunem November 24, 2010
Get the big government social conservative mug.