"If you watch the anarchist tirades coming from extremist Republicans in the House, you'd think they believe that the government that governs best is a government that doesn't exist at all." Yes. The government that governs best is the government that doesn't exist at all. Governments exist to protect the rich and capitalism. Without the state, the proletariat could be free from the shackles of oppression.
" When was the last time the anarchy gang called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children's toys? Or for inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in our babies?" And no actual anarchist would advocate that. Do we want lead in children's toys? Or meat to have bacteria? Or a morning sickness drug to lead to deformed babies? No, fuck that, but the state isn't the solution. The state is supporting the problem. All of those are problems in the capitalist mode of production that leads to myopic and irrational egoism leading to the capitalists forcing the workers to slave on things that could kill those workers themselves, and will remain a problem only as long as capitalism still functions. And capitalism needs a state.
"After the sequester kicked in, Republicans immediately turned around and called on us to protect funding for our national defense and to keep our air traffic controllers on the job." Of course! It's cause they aren't anarchists.
"Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
"1. Provide for the national defense.
"2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
"3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed."
This appears to be the heart of the essay. We need government for national defense, regulating capitalism, and making things together. I'll deal with the second claim first.
"2. Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent." Of course, capitalist banks, if unregulated, can do horrible things and destroy the economy, but capitalist banks only exist on the back of help from the state. If the state didn't uphold the monopoly on banks and the state supported media hold the proletariat back with their propaganda, worker banks, owned and run by the workers, would quickly spring up and out compete the capitalist banks. When the revolution succeeds, for it has always been here, the abolition of money will destroy the foundation upon which the banks stand. Capitalism needs the state. If we abolished the state, we wouldn't need the state to regulate the capitalist banks.
"1. Provide for the national defense." This, surprisingly to most, doesn't need the state. In times of need, militias spring up, and non-hierarchical armies can form. People don't need to be told to defend themselves.
"3. Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed." This is just insulting to people. It's saying we can't cooperate and work together without a boss telling us what to do. We can discuss and work toward consensus and create and maintain roads, schools, and power grids on our own, thank you very much. Children can run their schools. Communities can fix their roads. Societies can maintain electricity. We don't need bosses to tell us any of that.
" These things did not appear by magic. In each instance, we made a choice as a people to come together. We made that choice because we wanted to be a country with a foundation that would allow anyone to have a chance to succeed." Actually, no. People like you made the choices for us.
" The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the white pills we take are antibiotics and not baking soda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees crash tests to make sure our new cars have functioning brakes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes sure that babies' car seats don't collapse in a crash and that toasters don't explode." And why would companies do that? Oh, yeah. Capitalistic greed and its warped egoism puts making money above all else, leading people to make shit and market it as good. Without the capitalist mode of production and without money, that won't fucking happen.
"We are alive, we are healthier, we are stronger because of government. Alive, healthier, stronger because of what we did together." Fuck that. We have more empty homes than homeless people because the government protects the claims by banks to those homes. We have people starving on the street because the government backs companies forcing those in need to pay money for their necessities. We have huge income inequalities because the government protects corporations. We have workers being oppressed in factories because the government protects the capitalists' claims to the factories. We aren't healthier or stronger. We're crippled and oppressed.
"We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is, 'I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own.' We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air, or toxic mortgages." Wow. How anarchist. Such critique. You know what some actual anarchist slogans are? "All power to the soviets." "From each according to ability, to each according to need." "An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us." "No gods. No masters." "It is the liberty that is the mother, not the daughter, of order.” “To be governed is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so . . .”
"We are not a country of anarchists. [...] We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation." Tell that to the members of the IWW, which, for a time, was the biggest union in the US. Tell that to Josiah Warren, who predates even Proudhon. Tell that to the Haymarket 8, who were persecuted for their anarchism. Tell that to Benjamin Tucker and his periodical "Liberty." Tell that to the protestors at the G20 conference in Seattle in the late 1990s. We are lovers of liberty, and anarchism is the truest expression of liberty.
Do not be so quick to label reactionary populists anarchists. We despise them as much as you do, if not more.