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, jailed if we dare step out of line, and then punished unjustly without remorse--all the while refusing to own up to its failings--we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic.
Instead, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, 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."
Worse, psychopathology is not confined to those in high positions of government. It can spread like a virus among the populace. As an academic study into pathocracy concluded, "[T]yranny does not flourish because perpetuators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous."
People don't simply line up and salute. It is through one's own personal identification with a given leader, party or social order that they become agents of good or evil.
Much depends on how leaders "cultivate a sense of identification with their followers," says Professor Alex Haslam. "I mean one pretty obvious thing is that leaders talk about 'we' rather than 'I,' and actually what leadership is about is cultivating this sense of shared identity about 'we-ness' and then getting people to want to act in terms of that 'we-ness,' to promote our collective interests. . . . [We] is the single word that has increased in the inaugural addresses over the last century . . . and the other one is 'America.'"
The goal of the modern corporate state is obvious: to promote, cultivate, and embed a sense of shared identification among its citizens. To this end, "we the people" have become "we the police state."
We are fast becoming slaves in thrall to a faceless, nameless, bureaucratic totalitarian government machine that relentlessly erodes our freedoms through countless laws, statutes, and prohibitions.
Any resistance to such regimes depends on the strength of opinions in the minds of those who choose to fight back. What this means is that we the citizenry must be very careful that we are not manipulated into marching in lockstep with an oppressive regime.
Writing for ThinkProgress, Beauchamp suggests that "one of the best cures to bad leaders may very well be political democracy." He advocates for the media holding politicians accountable for their actions and the actions of their staff. While psychopaths may not care about how their actions harm other people, notes Beauchamp, "they very much do care about being able to hold on to their positions of power. A system that actually holds people accountable to the broader conscience of society may be one of the best ways to keep conscienceless people in check."
That said, if we allow the ballot box to become our only means of pushing back against the police state, the battle is already lost.
Resistance will require a citizenry willing to be active at the local level.
If you wait to act until the SWAT team is crashing through your door, until your name is placed on a terror watch list, until you are reported for such outlawed activities as collecting rainwater or letting your children play outside unsupervised, then it will be too late.
This much I know: we are not faceless numbers. We are not cogs in the machine. We are not slaves.
We are human beings, and for the moment, we have the opportunity to remain free--that is, if we tirelessly advocate for our rights and resist at every turn attempts by the government to place us in chains.
The Founders understood that our freedoms do not flow from the government. They were not given to us only to be taken away by the will of the State. They are inherently ours. In the same way, the government's appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.
Until we can get back to this way of thinking, until we can remind our fellow Americans what it really means to be a free American, and until we can learn to stand our ground in the face of threats to those freedoms and encourage our fellow citizens to stop being cogs in the machine, we will continue to be treated like slaves in thrall to a bureaucratic police state run by political psychopaths.