The sticking point is not whether Americans must see eye-to-eye on these varied issues but whether they can agree that no one should be treated in such a fashion by their own government.
Our greatest defense against home-grown tyranny has always been our strength in numbers as a citizenry.
America's founders hinted at it again and again. The Declaration of Independence refers to "one people." The preamble to the Constitution opens with those three powerful words: "We the People." Years later, the Gettysburg Address declared that we are a "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
Despite these stark reminders that the government exists for our benefit and was intended to serve our needs, "We the People" have yet to marshal our greatest weapon against oppression: our strength lies in our numbers.
Unfortunately, 318 million Americans have yet to agree on anything, especially the source of their oppression.
This is how tyrants come to power and stay in power.
Authoritarian regimes begin with incremental steps. Overcriminalization, surveillance of innocent citizens, imprisonment for nonviolent--victimless--crimes, etc. Slowly, bit by bit, the citizenry finds its freedoms being curtailed and undermined for the sake of national security.
No one speaks up for those being targeted. No one resists these minor acts of oppression. No one recognizes the indoctrination into tyranny for what it is.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, historically this failure to speak truth to power has resulted in whole populations being conditioned to tolerate unspoken cruelty toward their fellow human beings, a bystander syndrome in which people remain silent and disengaged--mere onlookers--in the face of abject horrors and injustice.
We can disassociate from such violence. We can convince ourselves that we are somehow different from the victims of government abuse. We can treat news coverage of protests such as Standing Rock and the like as just another channel to flip in our search for better entertainment. We can continue to spout empty campaign rhetoric about how great America is, despite the evidence to the contrary. We can avoid responsibility for holding the government accountable. We can zip our lips and bind our hands and shut our eyes.
In other words, we can continue to exist in a state of denial.
Whatever we do or don't do, it won't change the facts: the police state is here.
"There comes a time," concluded Martin Luther King Jr., "when silence is betrayal."
The people of Nazi Germany learned this lesson the hard way.
A German pastor who openly opposed Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp, Martin Niemoller warned:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.