"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem."—Ronald Reagan
Corruption. Graft. Intolerance. Greed. Incompetence. Ineptitude. Militarism. Lawlessness. Ignorance. Brutality. Deceit. Collusion. Corpulence. Bureaucracy. Immorality. Depravity. Censorship. Cruelty. Violence. Mediocrity. Tyranny.
These are the hallmarks of an institution that is rotten through and through.
What you smell is the stench of a dying republic. Our dying republic.
The American experiment in freedom is failing fast.
Through every fault of our own—our apathy, our ignorance, our intolerance, our disinclination to do the hard work of holding government leaders accountable to the rule of law, our inclination to let politics trump longstanding constitutional principles—we have been reduced to this sorry state in which we are little more than shackled inmates in a prison operated for the profit of a corporate elite.
We have been saddled with the wreckage of a government at all levels that no longer represents the citizenry, serves the citizenry, or is accountable to the citizenry.
We're not the masters anymore.
It doesn't matter whether you're talking about the federal government, state governments, or local governing bodies: at all ends of the spectrum and every point in between, a shift has taken place.
"We the people" are not being seen, heard or valued.
We no longer count for much of anything beyond an occasional electoral vote and as a source of income for the government's ever-burgeoning financial needs.
Everything happening at the national level is playing out at the local level, as well: the violence, the militarization, the intolerance, the lopsided governance, and an uneasy awareness that the citizenry have no say in how their communities are being governed.
Take my own hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, for instance.
In recent years, Charlottesville has been plagued by government leaders who are tone-deaf, focused on their own aggrandizement, and incapable of prioritizing the needs of their constituents over their own personal and political agendas; law enforcement officials for whom personal safety, heavy-handed militarized tactics, and power plays trump their duty to serve and protect; polarized citizens incapable of finding common ground, respecting each other's rights, or agreeing to disagree; and a community held hostage by political correctness, divisive rhetoric and a growing intolerance for any views that may be unpopular or at odds with the mainstream.
It was a perfect storm just waiting for the right conditions to wreak havoc.
Unfortunately, the maelstrom hit in the summer of 2017, when Charlottesville, regularly cited as being one of the happiest cities in America, became ground zero for a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, "sanitizing history," extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words will end in violent actions.
In Charlottesville, as in so many parts of the country right now, the conflict was over how to reconcile the nation's checkered past, particularly as it relates to slavery, with the present need to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense, especially if it's a Confederate flag or monument.
That fear of offense prompted the Charlottesville City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has graced one of its public parks for 82 years.