By John Whitehead
No doubt about it: 2020—a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for freedom—was the culmination of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decade for freedom.
Government corruption, tyranny, and abuse coupled with a Big Brother-knows-best mindset and the Covid-19 pandemic propelled us at warp speed towards a full-blown police state in which nationwide lockdowns, egregious surveillance, roadside strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, profit-driven prisons, and pay-to-play politicians were accepted as the norm.
Here’s just a small sampling of the laundry list of abuses—cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional, and unacceptable—that have been heaped upon us by the government over the past two decades and in the past year, in particular.
The government failed to protect our lives, liberty, and happiness. The predators of the Police State wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else.
The American president became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the president with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton etc.) claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers that have been amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts empower whoever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.
The courts failed to uphold justice. With every ruling handed down, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts more concerned with protecting government agents than upholding the rights of “we the people.” This is true at all levels of the judiciary.
Covid-19 allowed the Emergency State to expand its powers. What started out as an apparent effort to prevent a novel coronavirus from sickening the nation (and the world) became yet another means by which world governments (including our own) could expand their powers, abuse their authority, and further oppress their constituents. While Covid-19 took a significant toll on the nation emotionally, physically, and economically, it also allowed the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, with talk of mass testing for Covid-19 antibodies, screening checkpoints, contact tracing, immunity passports, forced vaccinations, snitch tip lines. and onerous lockdowns.
The Surveillance State rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers, and power failures. Thanks to the government’s ongoing efforts to build massive databases using emerging surveillance, DNA, and biometrics technologies, Americans have become sitting ducks for hackers and government spies alike.
America became a red flag nation. Red flag laws, specifically, and pre-crime laws generally push us that much closer toward a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless. Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny. Be warned: Once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red flag gun watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.
The cost of policing the globe drove the nation deeper into debt. America’s war spending has already bankrupted the nation to the tune of more than $20 trillion dollars. Policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad hasn’t made America—or the rest of the world—any safer, but it has made the military-industrial complex rich at taxpayer expense.
Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak. In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, so-called safety concerns, and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of free speech.
The Deep State took over. The American system of representative government has been overthrown by the Deep State—aka the Police State aka the military/corporate-industrial complex—a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad. This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry. This shadow government, which “operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power,” makes a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government.
The takeaway: “We the people” have been saddled with a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption, and abusive tactics.
No matter who sits in the White House, politics won’t fix a system that is broken beyond repair.
So how do you push back against the government’s bureaucracy, corruption, and cruelty?
You start by changing the rules.
Take your cue from the Tenth Amendment and nullify everything the government does that flies in the face of the principles on which this nation was founded. If there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march toward outright dictatorship, it may rest with the power of juries and local governments to invalidate governmental laws, tactics, and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional. The power to change things for the better rests with us, not the politicians. The Police State is marching forward, more powerful than ever. If there is to be any hope for freedom in 2021, it rests with “we the people.”
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His books Battlefield America: The War on the American People and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State are available from the AFP Bookstore. He can be contacted at [email protected].