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Is America a Police State Yet?
Wendy McElroy/Activist Post
If you need to ask the question, then the answer is “yes”. But that is a glib response and I do not feel glib about America’s slide through the nine rings of political hell.
A police state is generally defined as a totalitarian government that exerts extreme and pervasive social, political and economic control over peaceful citizens.
Ayn Rand called it “the ultimate inversion…the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission.”
There are various ways to measure where a nation sits on the police-state axis.
One way is to compare what you see in America with the following standard description of a police state. A police state maintains its control through the pervasive surveillance of peaceful citizenry, through a vast number of laws with draconian enforcement, and by converting rights into privileges that can be withheld – for example, the ability to travel. Typically, there is a special police force, such as a Stasi, that operates with no transparency and few restraints. The special police do not address violent crime; instead, they exert social control and enforce the law whatever the law may be.
This describes America. Surveillance of daily life has soared; even the Supreme Court has consistently expanded the “right” of police to perform warrantless searches. A vast array of laws now dictate the minutia of life, from what you may not eat to the light bulbs you may not use as well products you must buy (e.g. health care insurance). On one day in January alone, Obama issued 23 executive orders to start the process of gun control. Enforcement is becoming every more draconian, with police departments pursuing militarization of their procedures and attitudes. A special police force called the Department of Homeland Security has spearheaded this military zeal; the DHS functions without transparency or accountability. Travel, formerly a right, is now a privilege granted by government agents at their whim.