hile imperceptibly evolving over many decades, the emergence of the American police state was significantly accelerated with the overreaction to the September 11, 2001 terror attack. Even more important was the Covid 19 pandemic that dramatically increased the momentum toward a police state as once a people are terrorized it is easy to impose a police state on them.
When societies lose their freedom, it is not ordinarily because autocrats or tyrants have forcibly taken it away. It is usually the result of the population willingly surrendering their freedom in return for protection against an external threat. While the threat is oftentimes real, it is invariably exaggerated.
In both 911 and Covid-19, the general public was stampeded into demanding action from their elected leaders. The politicians responded and did not pause to ask whether the actions undertaken would work; just do something was the mantra. They were unconcerned about the unintended consequences or the financial and societal cost to the nation.
Any student of history and human nature would recognize that these are the classic symptoms of collective hysteria and hysteria is contagious.This nation turned itself inside out as the media and unscrupulous politicians grossly exaggerated these threats and did not stop to ask if the cure would be worse than the disease.
In times like those, it was to be expected that the citizenry would look to the government for guidance and assistance. When that happens in an environment of mass hysteria, then it is unsurprising that the state will take on or assume new power as that is what has been demanded of it. This historically has been the process which led to the rise of authoritarianism and police states.
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, when the reality of international terrorism was fresh in the minds of the American people, the Patriot Act was passed. An irrational fear had taken over the citizenry that the government used to justify the most sweeping forms of domestic surveillance in the history of the Republic. The law granted virtually unchecked power to domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Powers which were quickly turned against the American people who did not genuflect to the political establishment.
However, it was the exploitation of Covid-19 that dramatically accelerated the formation of a potential all-encompassing police state as it handed the government an unprecedented weapon to manipulate the American people: the declaration of a national health emergency.
The American Political Class, utilizing the most draconian of tactics, plunged this nation into economic and societal chaos, claiming they had to do so in order to stem the tide of the “life threatening” Chinese Coronavirus. Grossly error-prone projections and the choreographed shutdowns and mandates in Communist China were trumpeted by politicians and the media as fear and anxiety gripped the country.
Declaring a national emergency, shutting down a nation, and curtailing freedoms in order to combat a virus with an infection fatality rate essentially equivalent to the annual flu for people under 70 would have been unthinkable at any other time in human history but the politicians and bureaucrats began clamoring for a national shutdown by pointing to the spurious success of China’s lockdown policies.
On March 13, 2020 President Trump issued a national emergency declaration for Covid-19. On March 16, 2020, in the most egregious mistake of his otherwise highly successful presidency, he announced an effective national shutdown of “15 days to slow the spread.”
Inevitably, 15 days became 45 and then extended into multiple months as states and cities initiated their own tyrannical lockdown regimens pointing to Trump’s health emergency declaration as the justification. The vast bulk of the terror-stricken citizenry dutifully obeyed. They remained silent as the governing class:
- issued arrest warrants and jailed citizens for attending gatherings of more than ten people,
- prohibited Americans from attending funerals services and visiting the sick or infirmed,
- levied excessive fines for not maintaining proper distances in public,
- forcibly closed businesses they deemed “nonessential,”
- arrested pastors for holding worship services either indoors or outdoors,
- used law enforcement to shutter churches and synagogues,
- indiscriminately ordered the closure of schools and universities,
- demanded that neighbors as well as ordinary citizens inform the police if anyone they knew was violating lockdown rules,
- mandated a vaccine for Covid-19 that was approved with no long term testing and unknown side-effects.
Politicians and bureaucrats, constitutionally or statutorily limited in their power, exercised near dictatorial authority in their edicts claiming the pandemic warranted putting much of the nation’s population into house imprisonment.
That is what a police state is like. It is a nation in which the government can issue orders and edicts or convey preferences with little or no legal authority. Yet, it appears the majority of the American people were willing to sacrifice their freedoms and way of life in order to empower such a potential police state in the guise of conquering a pandemic or protection from terrorism.
Governments never give up power once attained. They only seek to normalize it and now they have in their toolbox the knowledge that the citizenry will meekly acquiesce to any national emergency being declared an existential health crisis which requires government to unconstitutionally impose its will on the people.
Recently the Governor of New Mexico unilaterally suspended the right to carry firearms in public across their largest city citing her declaration of a public health emergency as the basis. The Democrats and Joe Biden are plotting to declare a national climate emergency, ostensibly because of health risks due to climate change, in order to impose their radical “green” agenda on America.
The march to a police state cannot be reversed by cosmetic changes to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Patriot Act must be repealed. The FBI should be disbanded, and its intelligence functions spread among other agencies and the bulk of its law enforcement activities returned to the various states. The CIA should also be disbanded, and its functions returned to the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury. And the fig leaf that is the FISA Court must be abolished.
Additionally, Congress needs to amend the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to limit and more clearly define the President’s prerogative to declare national emergencies. The various state legislatures must do the same with the Governors in their individual states.
If the Democrats win the White House in 2024 none of these reforms will be undertaken and in combination with their intent to pack the Federal Judiciary, the citizens of the United States will soon find themselves living in a permanent American police state. ✪