Did your Tea Bagger uncle share a whole bunch of memes this past weekend about the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada that shared a central theme of “We live in tyranny, and now it’s time to start murdering fellow Americans to take our country back,” because I sure did see a whole hell of a lot of them in my Facebook feed. In fact, that’s the theme I see and hear from people on the far right and from libertarians all the time. Our government is corrupt to the point of tyranny.
Except it’s totally not. Sure, it’s corrupt as all get out, but tyrannical? These five easy points will help you prove to Uncle Tea Bagger Tom that not only are we not living in tyranny, we’re still living in the most free and open society in the world, believe it or not. Don’t expect Uncle Tea Bagger Tom to believe you, but at least you can bookmark this list to scrub your eyeballs and brain out the next time he posts a meme about Maobamacare and FEMA camps.
#5. You Literally Can Leave Whenever You Want
Under real tyranny, you don’t have freedom to travel wherever you want to, not without becoming an actual refugee and seeking political asylum somewhere. Under tyranny, you wouldn’t be able to drive to the next town over without crossing through fifteen security checkpoints and showing ID at every single one. How many of us have taken international vacations? How many of us driven or flown across the country? NSA checks are annoying and probably unnecessarily scrutinizing, but it’s still not actual tyranny.
If we lived under a tyrannical government, we wouldn’t even be allowed to expatriate and give up our citizenship, both of which are completely doable and done all the time still to this day.
#4. Fox News and MNBC Exist
Under a tyrannical government, there aren’t independently-run media outlets. Instead you either have a total media blackout, or you have state-controlled media. MSNBC was never shut down during the Cheney/Bush administration, and Fox News is still freaking out about Benghazi and every fart that comes from the vicinity of the president’s asshole. Then you still have CNN and the major network news broadcasts as well.
#3. You Can Still Worship Any God You Want
This one goes right alongside #4. Freedom of religion is no joke. Being able to express any and all religious viewpoints you might have is not cool under tyranny. Why? Because under actual tyranny the first thing that’s done is to lock down all freedom of thought and force everyone to conform to whatever religion or lack thereof the ruling party so desires. Don’t believe me? Go ask people who lived in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule how free they were to express a differing religious point of view.
And for the record, you being told you can’t put a crucifix and a copy of The Ten Commandments in every classroom and town square is not the same thing.
#2. Cliven Bundy Isn’t Dead and He Still Has His Cattle
If the government of the United States of America is truly tyrannical, then Cliven Bundy should be dead or behind bars, period. A tyrannical government would not have let cooler heads prevail, especially if it meant that the armed militia they were going up against was going to take it as a sign of victory. Under tyranny Bundy wouldn’t have been given over 20 years to comply with the law. Under tyranny Bundy and the gun-cuddling morons who ran to his defense would have just been met with a friendly drone-fired missile, and anyone who bitched about the lack of due process would be silenced one way or another. Tyrannical governments don’t back down, ever. Why?
Because that’s sort of the point of a tyrannical government, to not have to back down for anyone or anything.
#1. We Still Elect Our Officials
Bitter and jaded folks are going to kvetch about this one too, but that’s okay. They’re living in a fantasy world where the government of the United States can be called tyrannical with a straight face so I’m not too worried about their response to this. The easiest and most simple debunking argument for why we don’t live under tyranny is that from our local bergs to the most powerful office in the world, we still hold free and fair elections to put our governments in place. Yes, there is too much money in our elections right now, but even that doesn’t mean the whole processes is broken. Look at how much money Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers heaved at the effort to unseat President Obama. There were people in Florida waiting all damn day to vote because they knew there had been a concerted effort to cheat them out of their say, and in the end those votes absolutely helped catapult Obama back into the White House for another for years.
Until a president actually cancels an election, declares martial law and literally rips up the Constitution, declaring it null and void we are nowhere near a tyrannical existence. Yes, there is shit to be fixed. Yes that shit to be fixed is monumentally large in its challenges to us. But we’ve been here before. Capitalism has threatened to choke the life out of the republic at several points in our country’s history, and believe it or not we always got saved from it by electing people who had the courage to fix it, whatever it took. We can do that again, either by digging up whatever remains of Teddy Roosevelt’s corpse, and cloning him Jurassic Park style, or we the people can simply start giving a few more fucks and electing people who think like Teddy did, big stick and all.