We're no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave; we're the land of the kind-of-free and the home of the scared silly.
The Patriot Act and the post-9/11 terrorism freak-out didn't just radically enhance the power of our intelligence agencies -- it also had a huge impact on our culture.
We're now a "see something, say something society," a society that is always on the edge of all-out paranoia.
We're scared to death of terrorism, even though you're statistically more likely to die in a car accident, drown in a bathtub or get struck by lightning than you are to be killed in a terrorist attack.
If someone says the word "terrorism," we'll throw away our freedoms in a second, even if there's no proof that doing so will make us any safer.
Politicians know this, which is why many are making it sound like the apocalypse is going to rain down on us unless we reauthorize the NSA's mass surveillance program.
President Obama is part of the problem.
He supports the USA Freedom Act, and warned in his weekly address Saturday that allowing the Patriot Act to expire would leave America open to attack.
On the other hand, it's been 20 hours since Section 215 expired, and as far as I can tell, the country's still standing.
Which makes sense, because the NSA's mass surveillance program has never been definitively proven to have stopped any terrorist attack whatsoever.
Ever since the scared little men of the Bush administration came to Washington, we've let ourselves be scared by everyone and everything.
It's time for that to stop, and it's time for us to regain the freedoms -- and courage -- we lost 14 years ago when the Patriot Act first passed.
We're supposed to be the home of the free and the land of the brave.
Let's start acting like it, and let the Patriot Act expire.