There's a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, I find things I don't like about living in a nation that has ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom.
Here's what I don't like about living in America.
I don't like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don't like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don't like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.
I don't like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don't like having representatives unable and unwilling to represent me. I don't like taxation without representation.
I don't like being bullied by government bureaucrats, vigilantes masquerading as cops, or faceless technicians. I don't like being railroaded into financing government programs whose only purpose is to increase the power and wealth of the corporate elite. I don't like being forced to pay for wars abroad that serve no purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.
I don't like being subjected to scans, searches, pat-downs, and other indignities by the TSA. I don't like VIPR raids on so-called "soft" targets such as shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad Darth Vader lookalikes. I don't like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement.
I don't like being treated like an underling by government agents who are supposed to be working for me. I don't like being threatened, intimidated, bribed, beaten, and robbed by individuals entrusted with safeguarding my rights. I don't like being silenced, censored, and marginalized. I don't like my movements being tracked, my conversations being recorded, and my transactions being cataloged.
I don't like how the presidency has developed into a neo-monarchy replete with all the luxury and lasciviousness of the feudal lords of old.
I don't like politicians who spend most of their time running for office, fundraising, and enjoying being feted by lobbyists and corporations alike. I don't like being kept at a distance from my elected representatives, including the president. I don't like free-speech zones, roving bubble zones, and trespass laws that restrict Americans' First Amendment rights.
I don't like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater. I don't like the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely. I don't like the PATRIOT Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.
I don't like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America's standing army in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country. I don't like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons, and the like being used against American citizens. I don't like government agencies such as the DHS, the Postal Service, the Social Security Administration, and the Fish & Wildlife Service stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don't like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.
I don't like the fact that since President Barack Obama took office, police departments across the country "have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars, and aircraft."
I don't like America's infatuation with locking people up for life for nonviolent crimes. There are more than 3,000 people in America serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check. I don't like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.
I don't like having my hard-earned taxpayer dollars used against me.
I don't like the partisan nature of politics today, which has so polarized Americans that they are incapable of standing in unity against the government's abuses. I don't like the entertainment drivel that passes for news coverage today.
I don't like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front-row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people's homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings - all without a warrant.
I don't like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don't like zero-tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don't like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing, and critical thinking.
I don't like police precincts whose primary purpose - whether through the use of asset-forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red-light cameras - is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don't like militarized police and their onerous SWAT-team raids.
I don't like Department of Defense and DHS programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police. I don't like government programs that reward cops for raiding homes and terrorizing homeowners. I don't like local police dressing and acting as if they were the military while viewing me as an enemy combatant.
I don't like being treated as if I have no rights.
I don't like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90-percent occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don't like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for corporate America.
I don't like feeling as if we've come full circle back to a pre-Revolutionary era.
I don't like answering to an imperial president, who operates above the law. I don't like the injustice that passes for justice in the courts. I don't like prosecutors so hell-bent on winning that they allow innocent people to suffer for crimes they didn't commit.
I don't like the double standards that allow government officials to break laws with immunity, while average Americans get the book thrown at them. I don't like cops who shoot first and ask questions later. I don't like police dogs being treated with more respect and afforded more rights than American citizens.
I don't like living in a suspect society. I don't like Americans being assumed guilty until they prove their innocence. I don't like the fact that 38 states require that a property owner prove his innocence when police have laid claim to it in a civil-forfeiture proceeding, whether or not that individual has done anything wrong.
I don't like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us. I don't like agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developing weapons for the battlefield that get used against Americans back home. I don't like the fact that drones will be deployed domestically in 2015, yet the government has yet to establish any civil-liberties protocols to prevent them from being used against the citizenry.
Most of all, I don't like feeling as if there's no hope for turning things around.
So I'm not giving up, at least not anytime soon. But I'm also not waiting around for the government to clean up its act. I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of the Rutherford Institute (Rutherford.org) and editor of GadflyOnline.com. His latest book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, is available online at Amazon.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.