It’s not unusual for presidential challengers in election years to ask the question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

It’s a legitimate question, and, at least in 1980, probably got Ronald Reagan elected to the White House.

Everyone knew in 1980 they were worse off than they were four years earlier when Jimmy Carter began his charade as president.

I think it’s a safe conclusion that in 2012, Americans had been so dumbed down by the media, the schools, the universities and other cultural institutions that most voters were too stupid to even know they were worse off than they were when Barack Obama entered the White House.

But I have a bigger question to ask Americans. I don’t expect most to comprehend it for the same reason most didn’t understand what Washington did to them from 2009 through 2012. Most didn’t notice how much liberty they had actually lost – how much of their American birthright they had actually traded away eagerly for a mess of promises.

Here’s my question: “Are we better off now than we were in 1776?”

Why do I ask?

That probably needs explanation for many Americans today. But in 1776, Americans, who were colonists of a foreign power, declared the nation’s independence, famously putting at risk, “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”

As I wrote in my book, “Taking America Back,” originally published way back in 2003, life in America’s colonies wasn’t all that bad. I suggested then – and I’m more convinced today – that the generation of our Founding Fathers was freer in practically every way than we are in America today under the thumb of a different kind of tyrant. Today, it’s not London that oppresses us. It’s Washington.

So let’s take a quick survey of some of the constitutionally protected rights we secured through the War of Independence:

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from abridging our unalienable rights to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

In the 21st century, something happened that our forefathers probably could never envision. The so-called “free press” has become as abominable as the state-controlled media of the 18th century – maybe worse. As I write in my book, “Stop the Presses!” the very concept of the God-given right to a free press was first articulated by America’s Founding Fathers. They saw the press as a vital check and balance against government tyranny. It was later dubbed “the fourth estate,” in reference to the tripartite nature of the government system they created.

What they could never have imagined in the 18th century, I suppose, was that a corporate media, regulated in so many ways by the state, would become, in essence, a tool of the furtherance of state power. Rather than serving as a “watchdog” against corruption, fraud, waste and abuse by government and other powerful institutions, the statist media became a “lapdog” of those interests – limiting and controlling the scope of national debate and dialogue.

How about freedom of religion?

Barack Obama often refers to it as “freedom of worship.” But that’s a whole different animal. Yes, it’s true, you can worship virtually any way you want in America in the assembly of your choice. But just try taking your faith into the public square. Religion in America today, especially in the Judeo-Christian, biblical form that inspired the concept of self-government, the rights of the individual and the rule of law, is on the run. The Ten Commandments are forbidden in any institution controlled by government. Prayer is forbidden in public schools by the order of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Bible, which was the foundation of early education in the 18th century, is forbidden from government schools. The churches, for their part, made a huge mistake in submitting themselves to the government for tax-exempt status, restricting their own participation in politics.

I could continue with more and more ways our First Amendment liberties have been degraded over the last 237 years, but I need to move on to other ways we are losing our hard-earned freedoms.

The Second Amendment, like all the other components of the Bill of Rights, makes clear that the right to bear arms is unalienable, meaning it comes from God, not government.

With all the demagoguery about new restrictions on firearms emanating from Washington, do I even need to comment? Note the first shots fired in the War of Independence came in defense of the New England colonists’ armory, which was about to be seized by the British. The British understood that a disarmed citizenry could not resist the tyranny of the most powerful empire in the world at that time. Many Americans have not yet figured out that nothing has changed in 237 years – that the citizenry, disarmed, still cannot resist the tyranny of the new most powerful empire in the world.

How about the Fourth Amendment? It prohibits unlawful search and seizure. Today, laws are being written that would permit government agents to make unannounced searches of homes to ensure that firearms are being properly secured. Governments are flying surveillance drones over the American homeland to spy on us. How about those surveillance cameras at practically every traffic light? How about satellite surveillance? These are abuses that would turn the stomachs of our liberty-minded Founding Fathers. The U.S. government is collecting and storing records of virtually every phone call, purchase, email, text message, Internet search, social media communication you make, not to mention its dossiers on your health information, employment history, travel and student records. Through the Internal Revenue Service, it has detailed records of your most personal and private financial records and history. Do you know why they call your cell phone a “smartphone”? Because it’s a tracking device. Don’t even get me started. Unlawful search and seizure? It’s the norm today in America. Property is being seized for the most specious reasoning of the state – the presence of water on your land, the presence of “endangered species” – for no reason and for every reason.

How about the Fifth Amendment? That’s the one that offers due process. Today, centuries after our genius founders had the foresight to enshrine such protections in the Bill of Rights, the foreign tyrants in Washington claim the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain American citizens without due process.

I’ve gone on too long for one column already.

Perhaps it’s time to write another book.

But, for sure, in answer to the question, we’re worse off than we were in 1776.

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