The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty, and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

Does the government pose a danger to you and your loved ones? The facts speak for themselves.

We’re being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers – a standing army. While Americans are being made to jump through an increasing number of hoops to exercise their Second Amendment right to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment; authorizing them to make arrests; and training them in military tactics. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines. Clearly, the government is preparing for war – and a civil war, at that – but who is the enemy?

We’re being robbed blind by a government of thieves. Americans no longer have any real protection against government agents empowered to seize private property at will. For instance, police agencies under the guise of asset-forfeiture laws are taking property based on little more than a suspicion of criminal activity. Homeowners are losing their homes over nonpayment of taxes (for as little as $400 owed) and municipal bills such as water or sewer fees that amount to a fraction of what they have invested in their homes. And then there’s the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been searching train and airline passengers and pocketing their cash, without ever charging them with a crime.

We’re being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots, and cowards. When you’ve got government representatives who spend a large chunk of their work hours fundraising, being feted by lobbyists, shuffling through a lucrative revolving door between public service and lobbying, and making themselves available to anyone with enough money to secure access to a congressional office, you’re in the clutches of a corrupt oligarchy. Mind you, these same elected officials rarely read the legislation they’re enacting, nor do they seem capable of enacting much legislation that actually helps rather than hinders American citizens.

We’re being locked up by a government of greedy jailers. We have become a carceral state, spending three times more on our prisons than on our schools and imprisoning close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, despite the fact that crime is at an all-time low and the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population. The rise of over-criminalization and profit-driven private prisons provides even greater incentives for locking up American citizens for such nonviolent “crimes” as having an overgrown lawn.

We’re being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms. The government is watching everything you do, reading everything you write, listening to everything you say, and monitoring everything you spend. Omnipresent surveillance is paving the way for government programs that profile citizens, document their behavior, and attempt to predict what they might do in the future, whether it’s what they might buy, what politician they might support, or what kinds of crimes they might commit. The impact of this far-reaching surveillance, according to Psychology Today, is “reduced trust, increased conformity, and even diminished civic participation.”

We’re being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists, and killers. It’s not just the police shootings of unarmed citizens that are worrisome. It’s the SWAT-team raids gone wrong that are leaving innocent citizens wounded, children terrorized, and family pets killed. It’s the roadside strip searches – in some cases, cavity searches of men and women alike carried out in full view of the public – in pursuit of drugs that are never found. It’s the potentially lethal – and unwarranted – use of so-called “nonlethal” weapons such as Tasers on children for engaging in childish behavior.

We’re being forced to surrender our freedoms – and those of our children – to a government of extortionists, money-launderers, and professional pirates. The American people have been repeatedly sold a bill of goods about how the government needs more money, more expansive powers, and more secrecy (secret courts, secret budgets, secret military campaigns, secret surveillance) to keep us safe. Under the guise of fighting its wars on terror, drugs, and now domestic extremism, the government has spent billions in taxpayer dollars on endless wars that have not ended terrorism but merely sown the seeds of blowback, surveillance programs that have caught few terrorists while subjecting all Americans to a surveillance society, and militarized police that have done little to decrease crime while turning communities into war zones. Not surprisingly, the primary ones to benefit from these government exercises in legal money-laundering have been the corporations, lobbyists, and politicians who inflict them on a trusting public.

Whatever else it may be – a danger, a menace, a threat – the U.S. government is certainly no friend to freedom.

To our detriment, the criminal class that Mark Twain mockingly referred to as Congress has since expanded to include every government agency that feeds off the carcass of our once-constitutional republic.

So no matter which party wins the White House, controls Congress, or appoints future Supreme Court justices, rest assured that the menace of the shadow government – the permanent, unelected bureaucracy that operates beyond the reach of the Constitution, the courts, and the citizenry – will continue uninterrupted.

How long we will continue to suffer depends on how much we’re willing to give up for the sake of freedom.

America’s founders provided us with a very specific explanation about the purpose of government and a roadmap for what to do when the government abuses its authority, ignores our objections, and establishes itself as a tyrant.

We must choose between peaceful slavery (in other words, maintaining the status quo in servitude to the police state) and dangerous freedom. That will mean carving out a path in which we begin to take ownership of our government (starting at the local level), challenging the status quo, and raising hell whenever a government official steps out of line.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of the Rutherford Institute (Rutherford.org), where this article originally appeared. His latest book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, is available at Amazon.com. He can be reached at johnw@rutherford.org.

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