Posts Tagged ‘totalitarianism’

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”—Ronald Reagan

There’s a pattern emerging if you pay close enough attention.

Civil discontent leads to civil unrest, which leads to protests and counterprotests.

Without fail, what should be an exercise in how to peacefully disagree turns ugly the moment looting, vandalism, violence, intimidation tactics and rioting are introduced into the equation. Instead of restoring order, local police stand down.

Tensions rise, violence escalates, and federal armies move in.

Coincidence? I think not.

This was the blueprint used three years ago in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when the city regularly cited as being one of the happiest places in America, became ground zero for a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, “sanitizing history,” extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words will end in violent actions.

It was a setup: local police deliberately engineered a situation in which protesters would confront each other, tensions would bubble over, and things would turn just violent enough to call in the bigger guns.

It is the blueprint being used right now.

In Charlottesville, as in so many parts of the country right now, the conflict was over how to reconcile the nation’s checkered past, particularly as it relates to slavery, with the push to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense, especially if it’s a Confederate flag or monument.

That fear of offense prompted the Charlottesville City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had graced one of its public parks for 82 years.

That’s when everything went haywire.

In attempting to pacify one particularly vocal and righteously offended group while railroading over the concerns of those with alternate viewpoints, Charlottesville attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and the alt-Right, all of whom descended on the little college town with the intention of exercising their First Amendment right to be disagreeable, to assemble, and to protest.

When put to the test, Charlottesville did not handle things well at all.

On August 12, 2017, what should have been an exercise in free speech quickly became a brawl that left one dead and dozens more injured.

As the New York Times reported, “Protesters began to mace one another, throwing water bottles and urine-filled balloons — some of which hit reporters — and beating each other with flagpoles, clubs and makeshift weapons. Before long, the downtown area was a melee. People were ducking and covering with a constant stream of projectiles whizzing by our faces, and the air was filled with the sounds of fists and sticks against flesh.”

And then there was the police, who were supposed to uphold the law and prevent violence.

They failed to do either.

Indeed, a 220-page post-mortem of the protests and the Charlottesville government’s response by former U.S. attorney Timothy J. Heaphy merely corroborates our worst fears about what drives the government at all levels: power, money, ego, politics and ambition.

When presented with a situation in which the government and its agents were tasked with protecting free speech and safety, Heaphy concluded that “the City of Charlottesville protected neither free expression nor public safety.”

Heaphy continues: “The City was unable to protect the right of free expression and facilitate the permit holder’s offensive speech. This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions—the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury, and death. Charlottesville preserved neither of those principles on August 12, which has led to deep distrust of government within this community.”

In other words, the government failed to uphold its constitutional mandates. The police failed to carry out their duties as peace officers. And the citizens found themselves unable to trust either the police or the government to do its job in respecting their rights and ensuring their safety.

Despite the fact that 1,000 first responders (including 300 state police troopers and members of the National Guard)—many of whom had been preparing for the downtown rally for months—had been called on to work the event, despite the fact that police in riot gear surrounded Emancipation Park on three sides, and despite the fact that Charlottesville had had what reporter David Graham referred to as “a dress rehearsal of sorts” a month earlier when 30 members of the Ku Klux Klan were confronted by 1000 counterprotesters, police failed to do their jobs.

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, police “seemed to watch as groups beat each other with sticks and bludgeoned one another with shields… At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured.”

Police Stood By As Mayhem Mounted in Charlottesville,” reported ProPublica.

Instead of establishing clear boundaries—buffer zones—between the warring groups and protecting the First Amendment rights of the protesters, police established two entrances into the permit areas of the park and created barriers “guiding rallygoers single-file into the park” past lines of white nationalists and antifa counterprotesters.

Incredibly, when the first signs of open violence broke out, Heaphy reports that the police chief allegedly instructed his staff to “let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”

This is not much different from what is happening on the present-day national scene.

Commissioned by the City of Charlottesville, this Heaphy report was intended to be an independent investigation of what went right and what went wrong in the government’s handling of the protests.

Heaphy found very little to commend.

What went right on Aug. 12 according to Heaphy: 1) Despite the presence of firearms, including members of the militia, and angry confrontations between protesters and counterprotesters, no person was shot and no significant property damage occurred; 2) Emergency personnel did their jobs effectively and treated a large number of people in a short period of time; and 3) Police intelligence gathering was thorough (that’s the best he had to say about police).

Now for what went wrong, according to the report:

1. Police failed to get input from other law enforcement agencies experienced in handling large protests.

2. Police failed to adequately train their officers in advance of the protest.

3. City officials failed to request assistance from outside agencies.

4. The City Council unduly interfered by ignoring legal advice, attempting to move the protesters elsewhere, and ignoring the concerns of law enforcement.

5. The city government failed to inform the public about their plans.

6. City officials were misguided in allowing weapons at the protest.

7. The police implemented a flawed operational plan that failed to protect public safety.

8. While police were provided with riot gear, they were never trained in how to use it, nor were they provided with any meaningful field training in how to deal with or de-escalate anticipated violence on the part of protesters.

9. Despite the input and advice of outside counsel, including The Rutherford Institute, the police failed to employ de-escalation tactics or establish clear barriers between warring factions of protesters.

10. Government officials and police leadership opted to advance their own agendas at the expense of constitutional rights and public safety.

11. For all intents and purposes, police abided by a stand down order that endangered the community and paved the way for massive civil unrest.

12. In failing to protect public safety, police and government officials undermined public faith in the government.

The Heaphy report focused on the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, but it applies to almost every branch of government that fails to serve “we the people.”

As the Pew Research Center revealed, public trust in the government remains near historic lows and with good reason, too.

This isn’t America, land of the free, where the government is “of the people, by the people [and] for the people.”

Rather, this is Amerika, where fascism, totalitarianism and militarism go hand in hand.

What you smell is the stench of a dying republic. Our dying republic.

The American experiment in freedom is failing fast.

Through every fault of our own—our apathy, our ignorance, our intolerance, our disinclination to do the hard work of holding government leaders accountable to the rule of law, our inclination to let politics trump longstanding constitutional principles—we have been reduced to this sorry state in which we are little more than shackled inmates in a prison operated for the profit of a corporate elite.

We have been saddled with the wreckage of a government at all levels that no longer represents the citizenry, serves the citizenry, or is accountable to the citizenry.

“We the people” are not the masters anymore.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the federal government, state governments, or local governing bodies: at all ends of the spectrum and every point in between, a shift has taken place.

“We the people” are not being seen, heard or valued.

We no longer count for much of anything beyond an occasional electoral vote and as a source of income for the government’s ever-burgeoning financial needs.

Everything happening at the national level is playing out at the local level, as well: the violence, the militarization, the intolerance, the lopsided governance, and an uneasy awareness that the citizenry have no say in how their communities are being governed.

As I have warned repeatedly, the architects of the police state have every intention of manipulating this outrage for their own purposes.

Predictably, the police state is allowing these protests, riots and looting to devolve into a situation where enough of the voting populace is so desperate for a return to law and order that they will gladly relinquish some of their freedoms to achieve it. And that’s how the police state will win, no matter which candidate gets elected to the White House, and “we the people” will continue to lose.

So what’s the answer?

As always, it must start with “we the people.”

I’ve always advised people to think nationally, but act locally.

Yet as Charlottesville made clear, it’s hard to make a difference locally when the local government is as deaf, dumb and blind to the needs of its constituents as the national government.

Charlottesville much like the rest of the nation has had its fair share of government leaders who are tone-deaf, focused on their own aggrandizement, and incapable of prioritizing the needs of their constituents over their own personal and political agendas; law enforcement officials for whom personal safety, heavy-handed militarized tactics, and power plays trump their duty to serve and protect; polarized citizens incapable of finding common ground, respecting each other’s rights, or agreeing to disagree; and a community held hostage by political correctness, divisive rhetoric and a growing intolerance for any views that may be unpopular or at odds with the mainstream.

It was a perfect storm just waiting for the right conditions to wreak havoc, a precursor of the rage, frustration and fear that is erupting all over the country.

No matter what forces are manipulating these present riots and violent uprisings, however—and there are definitely such forces at play here—none of this would be happening without the government having laid the groundwork.

Clearly, it’s time to clean house at all levels of government.

Stop tolerating corruption, graft, intolerance, greed, incompetence, ineptitude, militarism, lawlessness, ignorance, brutality, deceit, collusion, corpulence, bureaucracy, immorality, depravity, censorship, cruelty, violence, mediocrity, and tyranny. These are the hallmarks of an institution that is rotten through and through.

Stop holding your nose in order to block out the stench of a rotting institution.

Stop letting the government and its agents treat you like a servant or a slave.

You’ve got rights. We’ve all got rights. This is our country. This is our government. No one can take it away from us unless we make it easy for them.

You’ve got a better chance of making your displeasure seen and felt and heard within your own community. But it will take perseverance and unity and a commitment to finding common ground with your fellow citizens.

Right now, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re making it way too easy for the police state to take over.

Stop being an accessory to the murder of the American republic.

Source: https://bit.ly/3ahhbHh

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

 

“In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one can argue, to whom one can present grievances, on whom the pressures of power can be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless, we have a tyranny without a tyrant.” ― Hannah Arendt, On Violence

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 with every passing 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.

It must be said: the Black Lives Matter protests have not helped. Inadvertently or intentionally, these protests—tinged with mob violence, rampant incivility, intolerance, and an arrogant disdain for how an open marketplace of ideas can advance freedom—have politicized what should never have been politicized: police brutality and the government’s ongoing assaults on our freedoms.

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 the government’s brutality.

That sliver of unity didn’t last.

We may be worse off now than we were before.

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, pre-crime 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.

Strangely enough, in the face of outright corruption and incompetency on the part of our elected officials, Americans in general remain relatively gullible, eager to be persuaded that the government can solve the problems that plague us, whether it be terrorism, an economic depression, an 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. Yet having bought into the false notion that the government does indeed know what’s best for us and can ensure not only our safety but our happiness and will take care of us from cradle to grave—that is, from daycare centers to nursing homes—we have in actuality allowed ourselves to be bridled and turned into slaves at the bidding of a government that cares little for our freedoms or our happiness.

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—ranging from the militarized police in SWAT team gear crashing through our doors to the rash of innocent citizens being gunned down by police to the invasive spying on everything we do—is acting illogically, even psychopathically. (The characteristics of a psychopath include a “lack of remorse and empathy, a sense of grandiosity, superficial charm, conning and manipulative behavior, and refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions, among others.”)

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 pickle we find ourselves in speaks volumes about the nature of the government beast we have been saddled with and how it views the rights and sovereignty of “we the people.”

Now you don’t hear a lot about sovereignty anymore. Sovereignty is a dusty, antiquated term that harkens back to an age when kings and emperors ruled with absolute power over a populace that had no rights. Americans turned the idea of sovereignty on its head when they declared their independence from Great Britain and rejected the absolute authority of King George III. In doing so, Americans claimed for themselves the right to self-government and established themselves as the ultimate authority and power.

In other words, in America, “we the people”— sovereign citizens—call the shots.

So when the government acts, it is supposed to do so at our bidding and on our behalf, because we are the rulers.

That’s not exactly how it turned out, though, is it?

In the 200-plus years since we boldly embarked on this experiment in self-government, we have been steadily losing ground to the government’s brazen power grabs, foisted upon us in the so-called name of national security.

The government has knocked us off our rightful throne. It has usurped our rightful authority. It has staged the ultimate coup. Its agents no longer even pretend that they answer to “we the people.” Worst of all, “we the people” have become desensitized to this constant undermining of our freedoms.

How do we reconcile the Founders’ vision of the government as an entity whose only purpose is to serve the people with the police state’s insistence that the government is the supreme authority, that its power trumps that of the people themselves, and that it may exercise that power in any way it sees fit (that includes government agents crashing through doors, mass arrests, ethnic cleansing, racial profiling, indefinite detentions without due process, and internment camps)?

They cannot be reconciled. They are polar opposites.

We are fast approaching a moment of reckoning where we will be forced to choose between the vision of what America was intended to be (a model for self-governance where power is vested in the people) and the reality of what it has become (a police state where power is vested in the government).

This slide into totalitarianism—helped along by overcriminalization, government surveillance, militarized police, neighbors turning in neighbors, privatized prisons, and forced labor camps, to name just a few similarities—is tracking very closely with what happened in Germany in the years leading up to Hitler’s rise to power.

We are walking a dangerous path right now.

No matter who wins the presidential election come November, it’s a sure bet that the losers will be the American people.

Despite what is taught in school and the propaganda that is peddled by the media, the 2020 presidential election is not a populist election for a representative. Rather, it’s a gathering of shareholders to select the next CEO, a fact reinforced by the nation’s archaic electoral college system.

Anyone who believes that this election will bring about any real change in how the American government does business is either incredibly naïve, woefully out-of-touch, or oblivious to the fact that as an in-depth Princeton University study shows, we now live in an oligarchy that is “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.”

When a country spends close to $10 billion on elections to select what is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified homecoming king or queen to occupy the White House and fill other government seats, while more than 40 million of its people live in povertymore than 40 million Americans are on unemployment, more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, and analysts forecast it will take a decade to work our way out of the current COVID-induced recession, that’s a country whose priorities are out of step with the needs of its people.

Be warned, however: the Establishment—the Deep State and its corporate partners that really run the show, pull the strings and dictate the policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office—is not going to allow anyone to take office who will unravel their power structures. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have been effectively put out of commission.

Voting sustains the illusion that we have a democratic republic, but it is merely a dictatorship in disguise, or what political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page more accurately refer to as an “economic élite domination.”

In such an environment, the economic elite (lobbyists, corporations, monied special interest groups) dictate national policy. As the Princeton University oligarchy study indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. As such, the citizenry has little if any impact on the policies of government.

We have been saddled with a two-party system and fooled into believing that there’s a difference between the Republicans and Democrats, when in fact, the two parties are exactly the same. As one commentator noted, both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty

We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government run by a corporate elite, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.

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, the electoral college is a joke, most of the candidates are frauds, and, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we as a nation are repeating the mistakes of history—namely, allowing a totalitarian state to reign over us.

Former concentration camp inmate Hannah Arendt warned against this when she wrote, “Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.”

As we once again find ourselves faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils, “we the people” have a decision to make: do we simply participate in the collapse of the American republic as it degenerates toward a totalitarian regime, or do we take a stand and reject the pathetic excuse for government that is being fobbed off on us?

Never forget that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Source: https://bit.ly/2VVoP3Y

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

 

“Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.” ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Adding yet another layer of farce to an already comical spectacle, the 2016 presidential election has been given its own reality show. Presented by Showtime, The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth will follow the various presidential candidates from now until Election Day.

As if we need any more proof that politics in America has been reduced to a three-ring circus complete with carnival barkers, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, lion tamers, animal trainers, tight rope walkers, freaks, strong men, magicians, snake charmers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, knife throwers, ringmasters and clowns.

Truly, who needs bread and circuses when you have the assortment of clowns and contortionists that are running for the White House?

No matter who wins the presidential election come November, it’s a sure bet that the losers will be the American people.

Despite what is taught in school and the propaganda that is peddled by the media, the 2016 presidential election is not a populist election for a representative. Rather, it’s a gathering of shareholders to select the next CEO, a fact reinforced by the nation’s archaic electoral college system.

Anyone who believes that this election will bring about any real change in how the American government does business is either incredibly naïve, woefully out-of-touch, or oblivious to the fact that as an in-depth Princeton University study shows, we now live in an oligarchy that is “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.”

When a country spends close to $5 billion to select what is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified homecoming king or queen to occupy the White House, while 46 million of its people live in poverty, nearly 300,000 Americans are out of work, and more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, that’s a country whose priorities are out of step with the needs of its people.

As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”

In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.

As political science professor Gene Sharp notes in starker terms, “Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.”

To put it another way, the Establishment—the shadow government and its corporate partners that really run the show, pull the strings and dictate the policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office—are not going to allow anyone to take office who will unravel their power structures. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have been effectively put out of commission.

So what is the solution to this blatant display of imperial elitism disguising itself as a populist exercise in representative government?

Stop playing the game. Stop supporting the system. Stop defending the insanity. Just stop.

Washington thrives on money, so stop giving them your money. Stop throwing your hard-earned dollars away on politicians and Super PACs who view you as nothing more than a means to an end. There are countless worthy grassroots organizations and nonprofits working in your community to address real needs like injustice, poverty, homelessness, etc. Support them and you’ll see change you really can believe in in your own backyard.

Politicians depend on votes, so stop giving them your vote unless they have a proven track record of listening to their constituents, abiding by their wishes and working hard to earn and keep their trust.

Stop buying into the lie that your vote matters. Your vote doesn’t elect a president. Despite the fact that there are 218 million eligible voters in this country (only half of whom actually vote), it is the electoral college, made up of 538 individuals handpicked by the candidates’ respective parties, that actually selects the next president.

The only thing you’re accomplishing by taking part in the “reassurance ritual” of voting is sustaining the illusion that we have a democratic republic. What we have is a dictatorship, or as political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page more accurately term it, we are suffering from an “economic élite domination.”

Of course, we’ve done it to ourselves.

The American people have a history of choosing bread-and-circus distractions over the tedious work involved in self-government.

As a result, we have created an environment in which the economic elite (lobbyists, corporations, monied special interest groups) could dominate, rather than insisting that the views and opinions of the masses—“we the people”—dictate national policy. As the Princeton University oligarchy study indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. As such, the citizenry has little if any impact on the policies of government.

We allowed our so-called representatives to distance themselves from us, so much so that we are prohibited from approaching them in public, all the while they enjoy intimate relationships with those who can pay for access—primarily the Wall Street financiers. There are 131 lobbyists to every Senator, reinforcing concerns that the government represents the corporate elite rather than the citizenry.

We said nothing while our elections were turned into popularity contests populated by individuals better suited to be talk-show hosts rather than intelligent, reasoned debates on issues of domestic and foreign policy by individuals with solid experience, proven track records and tested integrity.

We turned our backs on things like wisdom, sound judgment, morality and truth, shrugging them off as old-fashioned, only to find ourselves saddled with lying politicians incapable of making fair and impartial decisions.

We let ourselves be persuaded that those yokels in Washington could do a better job of running this country than we could. It’s not a new problem. As former Senator Joseph S. Clark Jr. acknowledged in a 1955 article titled, “Wanted: Better Politicians”: “[W]e have too much mediocrity in the business of running the government of the country, and it troubles me that this should be so at a time of such complexity and crisis… Government by amateurs, semi-pros, and minor-leaguers will not meet the challenge of our times. We must realize that it takes great competence to run a country which, in spite of itself, has succeeded to world leadership in a time of deadly peril.”

We indulged our craving for entertainment news at the expense of our need for balanced reporting by a news media committed to asking the hard questions of government officials. The result, as former congressman Jim Leach points out, leaves us at a grave disadvantage: “At a time when in-depth analysis of the issues of the day has never been more important, quality journalism has been jeopardized by financial considerations and undercut by purveyors of ideology who facilely design news, like clothes, to appeal to a market segment.”

We bought into the fairytale that politicians are saviors, capable of fixing what’s wrong with our communities and our lives, when in fact, most politicians lead such sheltered lives that they have no clue about what their constituents must do to make ends meet. As political scientists Morris Fiorina and Samuel Abrams conclude, “In America today, there is a disconnect between an unrepresentative political class and the citizenry it purports to represent. The political process today not only is less representative than it was a generation ago and less supported by the citizenry, but the outcomes of that process are at a minimum no better.”

We let ourselves be saddled with a two-party system and fooled into believing that there’s a difference between the Republicans and Democrats, when in fact, the two parties are exactly the same. As one commentator noted, both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.

Then, when faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils, many simply compromise their principles and overlook the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Perhaps worst of all, we allowed the cynicism of our age and the cronyism and corruption of Beltway politics to discourage us from believing that there was any hope for the American experiment in liberty.

Granted, it’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation. We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.

It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.

So where does that leave us?

Benjamin Franklin provided the answer. As the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trudged out of Independence Hall on September 17, 1787, an anxious woman in the crowd waiting at the entrance inquired of Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”

What Franklin meant, of course, is that when all is said and done, we get the government we deserve.

A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved, whether that means forgoing Monday night football in order to attend a city council meeting or risking arrest by picketing in front of a politician’s office.

Most of all, it takes a citizenry willing to do more than grouse and complain.

We must act—and act responsibly—keeping in mind that the duties of citizenship extend beyond the act of voting.

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.

Battlefield_Cover_300What 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, the electoral college is a joke, most of the candidates are frauds, and, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we as a nation are repeating the mistakes of history—namely, allowing a totalitarian state to reign over us.

Former concentration camp inmate Hannah Arendt warned against this when she wrote, “No matter what the specifically national tradition or the particular spiritual source of its ideology, totalitarian government always transformed classes into masses, supplanted the party system, not by one-party dictatorships, but by mass movement, shifted the center of power from the army to the police, and established a foreign policy openly directed toward world domination.”

Clearly, “we the people” have a decision to make.

Do we simply participate in the collapse of the American republic as it degenerates toward a totalitarian regime, or do we take a stand at this moment in history and reject the pathetic excuse for government that is being fobbed off on us?