To use William F. Buckley’s famous line, the role of the conservative in society is to “stand athwart history yelling Stop!”

So let’s see how that’s working out. Conservatives fought to maintain slavery, they fought against women’s suffrage, and against birth control and abortion. They fought against social programs such as Social Security and Medicare — programs that are now considered to be “the third rail of American’ politics” because any politician who touches them dies. They fought civil rights, today they’re fighting gay rights and the expansion of the health care safety net. They fought public education, water fluoridation, pornography, shopping on Sunday … the list could go on.

There is always a conservative segment of the population that resists change of any kind. That perspective makes sense if you think we’re living in a fallen world and heading toward Armageddon. That things are getting worse is literally a religious belief.

And yet things gets better. Over time, people work together to create happier, more secure and prosperous lives. One of the ways we do that is through public sector programs, or the government. Today overall government spending is up both in real terms and in percentage terms. Here’s a graph of the trajectory:

Government spending is now over 40% of GDP, still substantially below the European “welfare states” which are closer to 50%. Today more people get food stamps, government backed mortgages and student loans than ever before. Regulatory staffing is up 14% since 2008, according the the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University.

I’m not saying that growth of government is always good, but my guess is that it’ll grow proportionally faster for a while.  The role of the private sector is to create wealth and the role of the public sector is to create security. We need both, and we need them to be in contention, which keeps both sides checked and honest. But make no mistake about the long-term trajectory: conservatives wins battles and progress wins the war.