"They will always lose"
In college one of my political science professors tossed off an offhand comment in his first lecture to the effect that "over time, the modern state tends to expand." He meant expand both in intensity and scope - government becomes more effective at exerting power, and starts to bring more areas of life under its control - but especially the latter. This is historically obvious, even if you look simplistically at the proliferation of government agencies, not just in the U.S. but in all industrial countries. We started with State, Treasury, Justice, and War, and look where we are now*. I asked him what that meant for people hoping for "smaller government" and he kind of shrugged and basically said it wasn't in the cards.
Tyler Cowen agrees:
I have a simple theory: in any period of time, government grows as large as it can, given available technology and a few cultural constraints. For better or worse, voters support this growth. ... Short of technological retrogression and negative economic growth, we should not expect government to ever get smaller. ...*added cabinet-level agencies are Interior (1849), Agriculture (1889), Labor and Commerce (1903, split into two in 1913), HHS and Education (1953, split in 1979), HUD (1966), Transportation (1967), Energy (1977), VA (1989), Homeland Security (2003).
The complainers are the libertarians. They will always lose, and they will always be intellectually important.