Creeping Authoritarianism in America

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For nearly three decades I devoted myself to upholding the dignity of individuals in far off lands who were denied freedoms most Americans routinely took for granted. Never could I have imagined that our God-given rights, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, would be threatened on our own shores as we see today. A lesson I learned while confronting authoritarian and dictatorial regimes on behalf of the repressed was the importance of speaking out clearly, publicly, and early on. We remain silent at our own peril.   

My public service career began as Ronald Reagan—the greatest president of my lifetime—was sworn into office following the disastrous four-year term of Jimmy Carter that was punctuated by humiliation on the international level and an economy rocked by double-digit inflation and interest rates. A confident and articulate leader, Reagan cherished the founding principles that helped make our country great and are now under relentless attack by Marxist elements and others on the Left.   

Early in his political career Reagan observed, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

For nearly two years now, we have lived under a pandemic of fear initially brought on by the ChiComm (Chinese Communist) virus that gripped the globe and ushered in unprecedented measures, curtailing our fundamental freedoms all in the name of public health and safety. Dr. Anthony Fauci has risen to the national stage as the Oracle of Delphi for all things virus related, a kind of COVID Commissar who has helped prolong this pandemic of fear.   

Fear is a powerful weapon typically used by authoritarians to coerce the masses into compliance. I have seen all too often during the course of my career what happens when the powers that be bring to bear the levers of state force and control against individuals and groups who fail to toe the party line. 

Anyone subject to state or federal certification or licensure—doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, lawyers, teachers and other educators, social workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, architects and engineers, transportation workers, food service employees, carpenters, plumbers and other tradesmen, and many more—are particularly vulnerable.  

We have seen that it really matters which state you live in and who the governor of your state is, as executives in many have wielded unchecked powers with little, if any, consultation with state legislators. 

Meanwhile, mandates at all levels of government have proliferated in many parts of the country, impacting the lives of millions of men, women, and children. Those who do not blindly comply with these measures, or who question the prevailing narrative, are ridiculed, scorned, canceled, or worse. Daily we learn of individuals denied access to public transportation, education, health care, and a growing list of services.       

The Biden Administration seems hell-bent on pressuring federal employees and contractors into submitting to the vaccine. Within minutes of the FDA’s approval of one of the experimental vaccines, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that all members of the Armed Forces would be required to get vaccinated. Austin has also made it a priority to root out “political extremists” and others from the ranks of the military, begging the question as to whether those seeking exemptions from the jab will be caught up in the purges to come.

Many of us were labeled as deplorables a few years back; today, patriotic warriors serving as elite Navy Seals have been told that they will be undeployables should they seek and be granted medical or religious exemption from the jab.

Meanwhile, over at the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a broadside last week warning parents who have protested against school boards promoting critical race theory to their children. Merrick warned against those who might issue “violent threats against school officials and teachers.” The AG’s memo could be a veiled threat to angry parents opposed to ideological indoctrination of school-aged children. The DOJ action followed an appeal by The National School Boards Association to the White House urging the convening of an interagency investigation into alleged threats of violence against school board members, which the NSBA claimed “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”  

The President has personally and repeatedly lashed out against the unvaccinated, vilifying tens of millions of Americans, including those of us who contracted the virus, recovered, and have the benefit of natural immunities. In his quest for near universal vaccination against the ChiComm virus, Biden has extended his reach into corporate America, threatening crippling fines for companies and institutions failing to act in accord with his command.

As disturbing as these developments are, practices commonplace under authoritarian regimes have crept into American society. Censorship, a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, is becoming more prevalent, especially for those broaching “sensitive topics” such as treatment options for those with the virus and the efficacy of experimental vaccines, as well as election irregularities. The White House has made no secret of the fact that it has flagged “problematic posts” for social media outlets, including Facebook. Big Brother and Big Tech becoming cozy bedfellows—a truly disturbing development and an afront to our first amendment freedoms of speech guaranteed under our Constitution.  

Fear and intimidation have spawned other phenomena here at home, including Orwellian self-censorship right out of the pages of Animal Farm. Some authorities have gone so far as to suggest that neighbors and family members “snitch” on those who violate COVID rules. Novel? Not for those living in such socialist Shangri-Las as Cuba and North Korea. 

As some scientists are suggesting that the ChiComm virus is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, attempts to curtail our fundamental freedoms as Americans should be met with strong, public opposition. The stakes are tremendously high for us, for our children, and for our children’s children. Left unchecked, the creeping authoritarianism we are witnessing before our eyes will spread, robbing us of the freedoms we have for too long taken for granted.  

In his Farewell Address to the Nation, President Reagan warned that, “as government expands, liberty contracts.” Only we can prevent our cherished freedoms from going extinct. We remain silent at our own peril and that of the next generation. 

[Photo Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

By

Ron McNamara served as a foreign policy advisor in the United States Senate during the early 1980s and as a member of the professional staff of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1986 until his retirement in 2011. He is the Coordinator of Student Leadership Development with the Center for Leadership at Franciscan University of Steubenville. His focus is on the nexus between American Founding Principles and Catholic Social Teaching.

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