By John W. Whitehead – December 31, 2019
Twenty years into the 21st century, and what do we have to show for it?
Government corruption, tyranny and abuse have propelled us at warp speed towards a full-blown police state in which 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, police brutality, profit-driven prisons, and pay-to-play politicians have become the new normal.
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.
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.
Militarized police became a power unto themselves, 911 calls turned deadly, and traffic stops took a turn for the worse. Lacking in transparency and accountability, protected by the courts and legislators, and rife with misconduct, America’s police forces became a growing menace to the citizenry and the rule of law.
The courts failed to uphold justice. A review of critical court rulings over the past two decades reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting the ruling class and government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
The Surveillance State rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. On a daily basis, Americans have been made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world.
The cost of endless wars 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. Meanwhile, America’s infrastructure is falling apart.
The government waged war on military veterans. Large numbers of veterans have been treated like criminals—targeted for surveillance, censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights—for daring to speak out against government misconduct.
Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws, shadow banning on the Internet, and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good.
The government waged a renewed war on private property. At no point do you ever have any real ownership in anything other than the clothes on your back. Everything else can be seized by the government under one pretext or another (civil asset forfeiture, unpaid taxes, eminent domain, public interest, etc.).
Schools became even more like prisons. So-called school “safety” policies—which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers—have turned schools into prisons and young people into prisoners.
The Deep State took over. The American system of representative government was overthrown by the Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military/corporate industrial complex—a profit-driven, militaristic shadow government that makes a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government.
The takeaway: Everything the founders of this country feared has come to dominate in modern America. “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 police state’s bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty and reclaim control over the government using nonviolent means?
You start by changing the rules and engaging in some (nonviolent) guerilla tactics.
Take part in grassroots activism, which takes a trickle-up approach to governmental reform by implementing change at the local level (in other words, think nationally, but act locally).
And then, 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 towards 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.
After all, as the Constitution tells us, “we the people” are the government.
For too long we’ve allowed our so-called “representatives” to call the shots. Now it’s time to restore the citizenry to their rightful place in the republic: as the masters, not the servants.
Nullification is one way of doing so.
Various cities and states have been using this historic doctrine with mixed results on issues as wide ranging as gun control and healthcare to “claim freedom from federal laws they find onerous or wrongheaded.” Most recently, a growing number of communities—including more than a 100 counties, cities and towns in Virginia—have declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries and adopted resolutions opposing any “unconstitutional restrictions” on the right to keep and bear arms. It is mass movements such as these that the government fears most.
Indeed, any hope of freeing ourselves rests—as it always has—at the local level, with “we the people.”
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we could transform this nation if only Americans would work together to harness the power of their discontent and push back against the government’s overreach, excesses and abuse.
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