It seems as if many Conservatives can't imagine any use of government that isn't coercive and oppressive. That says more about them than it does about the government, I think. It also explains a lot of what the Bush administration has done.
Government, ideally, serves the interests, the common good, of the people it governs. There is nothing innately oppressive about governments per se.
People oppress, people send others to unjust wars, people neglect the interests of anyone except the already powerful. Governments won't be accountable on Judgement Day: only the people who led them.