Americans are basically good and decent people who tend to assume the best of others – especially those in positions of leadership or trust. But millions of us realize now that that decency has been exploited. Those we have trusted have betrayed our trust; they have lied repeatedly; they are using their power for destructive ends. They are hobbling the economy, flooding the country with millions of unvetted migrants and crippling it with debt, and undermining the rule of law.
Human beings are flawed, so there will always be liars, thieves, grifters, opportunists, greedy business owners and corrupt politicians. When betrayal of the public's trust is the exception, it may still draw ire, but it will not threaten the integrity of the system itself. However, when we are bombarded, daily, with proof that those with prominent societal roles do not deserve them, and in fact are using them to wreak havoc, it can become overwhelming. What are average citizens to do?
The answer is both bad news and good news.
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The bad news is that the time for complacency is over. We can no longer go about the business of our day-to-day lives, confident that our schools are safe places where our children's mental health and education are paramount; that our media are relentlessly pursuing the truth and holding the powerful to account; that the businesses we patronize will respect (if not reflect) our values; that our institutions of higher education are doing their best to promote and preserve the constitutional liberties that have made America free and prosperous; that our legal system will protect the innocent and punish wrongdoers.
To the contrary, the proof of how terribly naive we have been is everywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the government's lust for power and willingness to use that power oppressively, not to mention the hypocrisy of elected officials and other wealthy and powerful people who have demanded masks and lockdowns while blithely ignoring the same restrictions they impose on their fellow citizens. A year-plus of online learning has exposed the seamy underbelly of some of our school systems, including policies that protect sexual predators, insert sexually explicit materials in curricula and in school libraries, promote communism and collectivism, racial hatred and division under the guise of "critical race theory," "systemic racism" and "white supremacy," encourage sexual experimentation and gender confusion in schoolchildren – and deliberately exclude parents from knowledge of any of this.
Instead of promoting the free exchange of ideas and questions, our social media companies now act as de facto censors for the government (as long as it is run by Democrats). City councils and state legislatures are passing laws and ordinances that permit homelessness, open drug use and theft. Law-abiding citizens and property and business owners are held hostage by governments that extract outrageous levels of taxes but refuse to provide basic police protections. Violent criminals are released without bail or on absurdly low bonds, not only in major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco but even more bucolic areas like Waukesha, Wisconsin, where Darrell Brooks, a serial violent criminal, plowed into a Christmas parade last November, killing six people and injuring 60. Brooks had been released on a paltry $1,000 bond just days before, for running the mother of his child over with a car.
The worst abuses of power are taking place at the highest levels of government. Just this week, information released by Special Counsel John Durham demonstrates that Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign paid to have candidate Donald Trump spied on in an effort to fabricate information, create a "narrative" that Trump was colluding with Russia and engage federal law enforcement in what ended up being a multimillion-dollar fraud on the American public. The media, of course, has completely ignored the story because it implicates Democrats in unlawful activity.
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Heads should roll for this. And yet everyone I talk to shrugs and says, "Nothing will happen." It is that sense of inevitability that concerns me most. Americans have not only lost faith in our government and legal system; they assume that corruption will carry the day; that the wealthy and powerful will escape the consequences that would befall anyone else.
This is the thinking one sees in backwater banana republics or dictatorships. It is not the thinking that has characterized America or Americans, many of whom fled those kinds of regimes for the freedom and justice they believed they would find here.
There is good news. Americans who have never considered themselves activists are taking up the banner with a long-overdue enthusiasm. Parents are storming school board meetings demanding transparency and change, including an end to the ridiculous and damaging mask mandates for children. State legislatures are introducing bills that would make public school curricula visible and hold administrators and teachers accountable. In Canada, the Truckers' Freedom Convoy has shown how to demand an end to oppressive government policies such as COVID-19 vaccine mandates. (An American truckers' convoy is said to be scheduling for the end of this month). Consumers are boycotting corporations infested with "woke" policies. Citizens are running for office at the local, state and national level. Polls indicate a reckoning is coming in November. Across the country, politicians of all stripes are beginning to understand that Americans are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.
What we do have to take (back) is the power we had handed over – and never relinquish it again.