By John W. Whitehead
For too long now, the American people have allowed themselves to be persuaded that the government’s job is to take care of us: to feed us, clothe us, house us, educate us, raise our children, heal our infirmities, manage our finances, protect us from our enemies, guard us against all dangers (real and imaginary), and provide for our every need.
Where Americans go wrong is in failing to recognize that there’s always a catch to such devil’s bargains purportedly carried out for the good of all society.
You want free education for your children? The government can take care of it. In exchange for free public schools, however, your children will be molded and indoctrinated into compliant, obedient citizens who reflect the government’s values rather than your own.
You want free health care? The government can take care of that, too. In exchange, your medical decisions—how you live and die—will ultimately be determined by corporations to whom you are little more than a line item impacting their profit and loss margins.
You want to be insulated from all things that might cause offense? That’s not a problem for the government. Its thought police will use hate crime laws to criminalize speech, thought and actions that may be politically incorrect.
You want a guarantee of safety? Sure, but your local police will also have to be militarized and trained in battlefield tactics, your communities and communications will be subjected to round-the-clock surveillance, and you—the citizenry—will be treated as suspects and enemy combatants.
You want to root out domestic extremism and terrorism? That’s just fine. But in the process of identifying and targeting terrorists, the government will have the power to label anyone who disagrees with its policies as an extremist/terrorist and subject them to indefinite detentions.
Are you starting to get the picture?
This is the terrible price—the loss of our freedoms and the enslavement of future generations—that must eventually be paid for the goods and services rendered by a government whose priorities are the acquisition of ever-more power, control and money.
As the old adage warns: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”
Unfortunately, we’ve been on the receiving end of the government’s taxpayer-funded handouts—and its deceptively well-intended dictates—for so long that many Americans have forgotten what it is to think for themselves, provide for themselves, and govern themselves.
By giving the government the green light to act in loco parentis and treat the citizenry as children in need of caretakers, “we the people” have allowed ourselves to be demoted and infantilized, reduced from knowledgeable, independent-minded, capable masters of a republic to wayward, undisciplined, dependent, vulnerable children incapable of caring for ourselves.
It’s time to grow up.
Even when the headlines blare out the news about SWAT team raids gone awry, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside cavity searches of young women, children being shackled and tasered, and Americans jailed for profit in private prisons, we still somehow maintain our state of denial until suddenly we’re the ones in the firing line being treated like suspects and criminals, having our skulls cracked, our doors smashed, our pets shot, our children terrorized, and our loved ones jailed for non-offenses.
How could we have been so blind, deaf and dumb to the warnings all around us?
Unfortunately, it happens this way in every age, in every place where freedom falls and tyranny flourishes.
Remember, tyrants don’t always come to power in a show of force. Often, they sweet-talk their way to absolute power, buoyed along by a wave of populist demand for someone to save the country from economic, military and political crises.
It can easily happen here.
In fact, the early signs of this downshift are all around us if you only know where to look.
You can smell it in the air: there’s danger coming. A recent New Yorker article reveals the lengths some of the wealthiest in America are going to in order to survive an apocalyptic breakdown of society: isolated refuges, bunkers, gas masks, generators, solar panels, ammunition, etc.
You can see it in the changes taking place all around you: the government is preparing for something ominous. For example, the Pentagon is using a dystopian training video to prepare special forces to deal with the urban challenges of megacities: criminal networks, illicit economies, decentralized syndicates of crime, substandard infrastructure, religious and ethnic tensions, impoverishment, economic inequality, protesters, slums, open landfills, over-burdened sewers, and a “growing mass of unemployed.”
You can hear it in the news coming out of the independent media: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches have already weakened our long-established bulwarks against tyranny by their constant undermining of the Constitution and the president’s amassing of imperial power.
We are no longer a constitutional republic.
The American dream is turning into a living nightmare.
We are fast moving towards full-blown fascism.
So what’s the answer?
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it was “we the people” who struck this devil’s bargain in the first place, trading our liberties for dubious promises of prosperity, security and advancement.
In the end, the choice of whether to keep drinking the Kool-Aid or reject the false prophets and promises of the police state—a.k.a. fascism or totalitarianism or tyranny—rests with “we the people.”
No one else is going to clean this mess up for us, certainly not anyone on the government’s payroll. As Jim Powell writes for Forbes: “Ultimately, liberty can be protected only if people care enough to fight for it, because everywhere governments push for more power, and they never give it up willingly.”
So let’s stop expecting the government to solve all our problems.
Stop defending the insanity of an immoral system of government that sees nothing wrong with bombing innocent civilians, jailing innocent citizens, and treating human beings as little more than cattle.
Stop validating a system of laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.
While you’re at it, start taking responsibility for your lives—and your freedoms—again. And maybe, just maybe, there will be some hope for tomorrow.