"The less government we have," Emerson observed a little more than a century ago, "the better . . ."
That may have been a reliable philosophy for bucolic 19th century America, but it is about as applicable to the 20th century as the horse-drawn buggy in the age of the space shuttle. If William Donald Schaefer's credo of political life could be reduced to a single sentence, it would be simply this: The more government serves the people, the better.
With humane instincts, nimble imagination, driven determination, tireless energy and above all, dauntless optimism, Schaefer has applied that philosophy with remarkable success.
His achievements in a lifetime in public life are vast and visible, and hence require little elaboration here. We would only mention the two chief works-in-progress of his first administration: The new Oriole stadium at Camden Yards and the light-rail line, which ultimately will connect Hunt Valley to BWI Airport. Both are mammoth public works projects which will serve millions of people, not to speak of the economic interests of the entire region, for decades to come. In fact, now that the projects are under way, few people can be found to say that they should not have been undertaken, and even fewer to say they should now be abandoned. About the only legitimate criticism that can be voiced is over the huge cost overruns from original estimates -- facts of life which, we suspect, raised the mercurial Schaefer temperature to unprecedented highs.
Schaefer's Republican opponent, William S. Shepard, has proved to be a worthy challenger, chiefly stressing Schaefer's addiction to spending. This is a legitimate criticism, but we can be certain whatever discipline Schaefer may need in the coming four years will be abundantly supplied by the economic hardship which is the legacy of eight years of Reagan profligacy. This discipline will sorely test Schaefer's legendary managerial powers as he seeks the wherewithal to carry out what will undoubtedly be the major task of the next four years, the restoration of the state's endangered infrastructure of highways, bridges and other public works.
We suspect the coming four years for Schaefer -- his re-election is a foregone conclusion -- will not be the happiest ones for a man whose public agenda knows no end. But he is entitled to give a second term his best shot. Without reservation we urge the re-election of William Donald Schaefer and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg.