American Bald Eagle
If we take even a casual look at some of the more obvious and notorious totalitarian regimes that reigned for a period of time during the 20 th century including Tsarist Russia and then the Soviet Union, China under Mao, Germany under Hitler in the 30's and 40's and Cambodia under Lon Nol in the 70's, the one thing that stands out is the people in those countries knew they were living under an authoritarian regime.
What's curious, though Britain was an empire and a large colonial power until the late 40's, the people of Britain regarded themselves as living in a democracy, yet viewed colonial rule over others as mostly benevolent and not repressive of the indigenous people. They were bringing "order and civility" to the colonials and to serve in the British military in India say was looked at favorably by the British people.
Colonials in America saw King George III and England as their oppressor, declared its independence and eventually threw off the kings reign with the American Revolution.
But in America even with its new found independence, slavery was still enshrined in the new Constitution and it took the Civil War and Lincoln emancipating the slaves in 1863 before the practice was ended, though Jim Crow segregation followed and lasted until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And of course the American Indian Wars and suppression of the Native American peoples was a policy of Indian removal from areas Europeans were settling and fulfill "manifest destiny", the "westward expansion to the Pacific coast". Let's not even get into the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor.
Though we annexed the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam after the Spanish American War in 1898, and gave "nominal independence" to Cuba four years later in 1902, most Americans still did not view the country as a colonial power.
But since the end of W.W. II, America with its military superiority and over a thousand military installations spread throughout the world has become an empire. It attempts to exercise hegemony everywhere with threats, bribery, sanctions, conduct worldwide surveillance of all electronic communications, initiate cyberwarfare, precipitate unnecessary wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, initiate drone strikes and missile attacks in those countries as well as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and now justifying the targeted assassination of American citizens, ignoring due process as part of the endless global war on terrorism.
The point is, the U.S. government and particularly the Executive Branch , since the end of W.W.II and significantly after the events of 9/11 with President Bush declaring a "unitary executive" that can't be challenged by Congress or the courts, has become a secretive, authoritarian regime, using Justice Department memos to "legalize" its actions, then kept secret for reasons of national security, while shredding the Constitution in the process and knowing it won't be challenged or held accountable for any actions it takes.
Yet with all the government sponsored propaganda, flag waving, extolling a military that is "defending" us and renditions of "God Bless America" at sporting events, we're "encouraged" to believe we're "exceptional" and as a Defense Department ad gushes, "A force to do good in the world".
Unlike the people living under the repression of obvious totalitarian regimes mentioned earlier in this piece, who knew exactly they were living under authoritarian rule, it seems most in the U.S. are deluding themselves into believing we're still "The land of the free and the home of the brave".
Maybe we've become so enamored with our technological gadgetry that keeps us sufficiently distracted, insouciant and isolated from other actual people we choose instead to live in the "virtual" world of Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile our government confidently assumes it can reign with omnipotence domestically and run roughshod all over the world as no country can challenge us militarily.
As for domestic challenges, supposedly legal demonstrations and protests- not even rebellions and insurrections- they'll just be infiltrated and compromised and/or suppressed as necessary.
So do we believe we're still living in a democracy, with a Constitution and the rule of law? Think again.