By John W. Whitehead
What exactly is going on? Is this revolution? Is this anarchy? Is this a spectacle engineered to distract us from the machinations of the police state? Is this a sociological means of re-setting our national equilibrium? Is this a Machiavellian scheme designed to further polarize the populace and undermine our efforts to stand unified against government tyranny? Is this so-called “populist” uprising actually a manufactured race war and election-year referendum on who should occupy the White House?
Whatever it is, this—the racial hypersensitivity without racial justice, the kowtowing to politically correct bullies with no regard for anyone else’s free speech rights, the violent blowback after years of government-sanctioned brutality, the mob mindset that is overwhelming the rights of the individual, the oppressive glowering of the Nanny State, the seemingly righteous indignation full of sound and fury that in the end signifies nothing, the partisan divide that grows more impassable every day—is not leading us anywhere good.
Certainly, it’s not leading to more freedom.
This draconian exercise in how to divide, conquer, and subdue a nation is succeeding.
For one brief moment in the wake of George Floyd’s death, it seemed as if, finally, “we the people” might put aside our differences long enough to stand united in outrage over police brutality. That sliver of unity didn’t last. We’re worse off now.
Suddenly, no one seems to be talking about any of the egregious governmental abuses that are still wreaking havoc on our freedoms: police shootings of unarmed individuals, invasive surveillance, roadside blood draws, roadside strip searches, SWAT team raids gone awry, the military-industrial complex’s costly wars, pork barrel spending, precrime laws, civil asset forfeiture, fusion centers, militarization, armed drones, smart policing carried out by AI robots, courts that march in lockstep with the police state, schools that function as indoctrination centers, bureaucrats that keep the Deep State in power. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
How do you persuade a populace to embrace totalitarianism, that goose-stepping form of tyranny in which the government has all of the power and “we the people” have none?
You persuade the people that the menace they face (imaginary or not) is so sinister, so overwhelming, so fearsome that the only way to surmount the danger is by empowering the government to take all necessary steps to quash it, even if that means allowing government jackboots to trample all over the Constitution.
This is how you use the politics of fear to persuade a freedom-endowed people to shackle themselves to a dictatorship.
It works the same way every time.
The government’s overblown, extended wars on terrorism, drugs, violence, illegal immigration, and so-called domestic extremism have been convenient ruses used to terrorize the populace into relinquishing more of their freedoms in exchange for elusive promises of security.
Having allowed our fears to be codified and our actions criminalized, we now find ourselves in a strange new world where just about everything we do is criminalized, even our ability to choose whether or not to wear a mask in public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the face of outright corruption and incompetency on the part of our elected officials, Americans in general remain gullible, eager to be persuaded that the government can solve the problems that plague us, whether it be terrorism, economic depression, environmental disaster, or a global pandemic. We have relinquished control over the most intimate aspects of our lives to government officials who, while they may occupy seats of authority, are neither wiser, smarter, more in tune with our needs, more knowledgeable about our problems, nor more aware of what is really in our best interests.
The lesson is this: Once a free people allows the government inroads into their freedoms or uses those same freedoms as bargaining chips for security, it quickly becomes a slippery slope to outright tyranny.
Nor does it seem to matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm anymore. Indeed, the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy of authoritarian government, whose priorities are to milk “we the people” of our hard-earned money (by way of taxes, fines, and fees) and remain in control and in power.
Modern government in general is acting illogically, even psychopathically.
When our own government no longer sees us as human beings with dignity and worth but as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police, conned into believing it has our best interests at heart, mistreated, and then jails us if we dare step out of line, punishes us unjustly without remorse, and refuses to own up to its failings, we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic.
Instead, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy: tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government, which “operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups.”
So, where does that leave us? Having allowed the government to expand and exceed our reach, we find ourselves on the losing end of a tug-of-war over control of our country and our lives. And for as long as we let them, government officials will continue to trample on our rights, always justifying their actions as being for the good of the people. Yet the government can only go as far as “we the people” allow. Therein lies the problem.
The powers-that-be want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day. They want us to believe that we have no right to complain about the state of the nation unless we’ve cast our vote one way or the other. They want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own.
What they don’t want us talking about is the fact that the government is corrupt, the system is rigged, the politicians don’t represent us, most of the candidates are frauds, and we as a nation are repeating the mistakes of history—namely, allowing a totalitarian state to reign over us.
As we once again find ourselves faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils, keep in mind that the lesser of two evils is still evil.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute.