Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians seem opposed regarding what size our government should be. Democrats often look at government as a means to do good things. Republicans prefer small government that isn't a major tax drain on the people. They are both right.
Government is the thing that keeps our laws enforced, and our nation protected. There is no getting around having government for these roles, as Libertarians will tell you.
Beyond these essentials, it's a matter of reflecting the values of the people, and choosing the right medium for servicing those values.
Some people's values are very narrow when it comes to government. For whatever reason, they simply don't want the government involved in the general welfare of the public, or for furthering things like science and medicine.
Others want the government to be used as a mechanism to support their values, which are altruistic or compassionate, and come from humanistic or religious influences. They want the government to ensure the fair and equal treatment of people.
The Preamble to the Constitution makes it clear that the general welfare of the people is a responsibility of government, so it can't be ruled out, but the Preamble and the Constitution don't make clear if there are any boundaries. That is up to us to decide.
That leaves us with three ongoing questions:
Philosophies of governing that continuously cut taxes, simply choke the government so it can't be effective. Un-funding through tax cuts and lower appropriations is a current major strategy of some parties to rid the government of programs that they don't want. It also raises the National Debt when taxes fall short of funding essential programs. Un-funding is simply a tactic.
Philosophies of governing that want only churches to do charitable work, are bankrupt ideas. Churches have been on the decline since the 1950s, all denominations, and they are rapidly closing and can barely keep their doors open. Many of them do charitable work, but can only do so on a very small scale.
Philosophies that want only for profit organizations to do the mission, can be very effective at some things, but all profit dependent companies exist to make a profit, so they can only do things that are profitable. For example, very few pharmaceutical companies take on making vaccines. There isn't enough profit in it. They also won't take on medications for illnesses that effect only a few. There isn't enough money in it. For profit companies will only take on causes where they can make a profit. All other causes are out of the question. But they are very worthy causes.
Non-profit organizations are very effective at some things, but to expand their mission they usually need greater funding. An example of a non-profit that has been very effective at serving those that for profit organizations won't serve, is Rural Electric organizations which brought electricity to farms. A very worthy cause.
Organizations that receive government assistance, but are non-government organizations, include Fannie May and Freddie Mac, which are loan organizations that make loans for housing. While they were criticized for writing some of the same bad paper that the banks wrote, they are the biggest home lenders in the nation that make it possible for those without huge down payments to own a home. A very worthy cause.
Private Capital, Public Good - the Brookings Institute
Trying to run a government by a philosophy, an ideology, doesn't work. It blinds representatives to better ways of doing things and prevents finding effective solutions. It's not a good idea to create huge entitlement programs, on the one hand, but that doesn't mean not taking on worthy causes that benefit the public and finding ways to keep the program small and limited to putting an end to the problem.
What size of government is best? The right size to meet the needs through finding effective solutions.
Editor - Dorian