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Does America Have the Balls to Revolt?

The sign of a presidency turned sour: I thought about writing an article called The Top 10 Worst Presidential Terms – a more fascinating argument than Worst Presidents, as our opinions of those men are predicated upon the administrations that sandwiched theirs – but I didn’t write that article, yet, because I’m reasonably confident the Obama Administration’s espionage goes deeper than what we know about.  Still worse, I’m pretty close to a Democrat, if I had to choose between picking a party or detailing my beliefs, opinions, and core values in an eloquent fashion.

If I may be so bold, I think the Administration misunderstands the purpose of checks-and-balances. They aren’t put in place just to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful; they are there to keep the branch itself running smoothly. In overextending its reach, the Administration is trading trust for data, thereby proclaiming itself an orphan of humanity. Now issues that have nothing to do with data mining are that much more complicated for the Administration; I, at least, will assume the good news is exaggerated and the bad is not forthcoming.

An example of the paranoia? Even the front page of CNN feels fradulent. Half the stories are about why this isn’t such a big deal and make me wonder what deal went down to get this horrendous journalism planted. Just look at the quotes they’re attributing to the argument, as though there could be another side:

“I don’t like it, but what can I do about it?” [Allen Trember from San Luis Obispo] said. “I’m just glad that we have as much freedom as we do.”

“Out of sight, out of mind,” is how Will, 28, responded to the news.

“If the government wants to look at my phone records to keep me safe … so be it. I don’t have anything to hide,” tweeted Cayla Marie.

“Terror war only fought by intelligence gathering. We criticize those entrusted to keep us safe & scream when they fail to do so,” reads a tweet from Lucy Rose.

And the most startling find on CNN: “Nearly half of Americans say the government would never abuse such an extensive trove of data.” Right, private data is just good to have. That’s not a contradiction at all. Either half of America is a fuckwit or CNN forgot the sarcastic italics for ‘never’.

Also, you don’t have to present the other side of every story to be considered fair and balanced. This is a huge breach of trust and CNN be all like ‘lolz so wut’s the gud side to dis?’ 9/11 didn’t need a pros and cons list. The Boston bombings didn’t have ‘on the bright side’ peppered into the stories. When I see talking heads debating the validity of the Fourth Amendment, I finally understand why my gun-happy polar opposites feel so declawed during the Second Amendment debates.

Explain to me the rationale here: we want to prevent further attacks on the nation, so we’re disbanding the reason you want to live here. America is starting to feel like the bar that charges women for soda on Ladies Night to make more money.

So what would a protest look like in 2013? I cannot even imagine a worthwhile full-scale protest happening in the present day. (Like these guys. And since I’m not a cable journalist, I’ll be transparent and tell you one of the members is one of my best friends.) Anyway, Wisconsin had to be an anomaly. Wall Street is ignoring regulation? Sit outside and stop shaving. The government wants to censor the Internet with CISPA/SOPA? Click here, e-mail, tweet. Problem solved. (By the way, if you believe we, the GMailers, won that war and not Google/Facebook/Wikipedia, I have a Declaration of Independence to sell you.) I’m surprised that this is the first we’re hearing of a massive spying scandal. The government can only stop itself at this point, like through Congress, and if it does so, it isn’t in the interest of the people. It’s because someone has an allegiance six zeroes strong. If half of America is truly represented by Allen, Will, Cayla, and Lucy up there, our watershed ‘March on Washington’ moment will be an expletive-laden cartoon GIF. Rallies? Jesus, even they’ve been parodied. Perhaps you remember the Stewart-Colbert facsimile-of-anti-Beck wink wink. I do, because that’s what we are now. We’re useless and waiting for something to happen just so we can faithfully recreate it. I hope a civil war doesn’t break out; there might be a hundred DIY offshoots.

What’s so strange about the utter lack of rage toward the Administration is that we’ve proven how effective organization has become. Woodstock took months of spreading the word from a bad trip tent in upstate New York to a commune in SF where hugs were an acceptable currency.  A throng of 10,000 was waving flags by the Capitol eleven minutes after the news of Bin Laden’s death. So we do have a pulse for victories, quixotic or non, but when it comes to dissent, we won’t leave home without the golden 51%. We all know hippies didn’t stop Vietnam and Dr. King already got his day in February. Like so many other atrocities, we can just move on. We certainly can’t be bothered to live with history we weren’t responsible for. Why shouldn’t the Administration have  the same magic trick? And why can’t that twenty year grace period be two weeks instead? They’re just the phone records of the people reporting on them. That’s nothing like the ghost stories of Socialist Russia.

How can we ‘get mad’ when the same inspirational clip for protests is used to spur fans at hockey games? We have no discretion for our surfeit of media.

The culture seems to be that violence is not the answer, and I wholeheartedly agree. Obviously the U.S. Government will always win an armed fight against its people. And it’s terrifying that they don’t have to shed a drop of blood to do so; more terrifyingly they proved their willingness to do so in Benghazi. But you know what’s sad? I can’t even say ‘do fucking something’ to you because that’s been hashtagged and PSAed into ironic oblivion, and nothing ever escapes ironic oblivion. That’s why you don’t see a government that will ever again respond to its people. Like a savant once said, we wouldn’t even know what to do if we caught it. Even typing these words now, I am introduced to a crushing sense of something I don’t have a word for. I guess we’ll start there. We need a word for the semantic satiation that’s occuring in modern society, because it’s too much of an understatement just to call it that. It should be a word that, when spoken, alerts you to your rights being abused, to your government having nothing uncommon with the dystopic book that’s on everyone’s mind, when there’s too much information for your voice to matter, and everything you are is a political decision tree to someone else, and you remember that a torture prison for men who never had a trial exists, and that there are way cleverer things happening there than there were in Room 101, and you have to hope that one day you’ll find something to say that won’t be spun back to you as a defense for something horrid.

The word for that is ███████. When you see something you love, just get rid of it. It’s easy, right? No big deal. ‘Orwellian’ and ‘censorship’ are buzzwords created by the media; anything to the contrary is just a slippery slope fallacy. You don’t need to see your name again because you’re smart enough to know who you are without a reminder. That’s all you’d ever do with that information anyway and it means the same to you as it does to the government. You wouldn’t use your name to put yourself in jeopardy. Neither would they. You can go without seeing the word ‘love’ again. You’re above being affected. You’ve had too many words for too long. But maybe it won’t be like that. Maybe when you go to write ‘America’ and ███████ happens, you’ll feel the anger you should be feeling; it’s a reality now. You aren’t losing freedom. You lost it, you saw yourself losing it, and did nothing about it. Maybe you’ll feel liberated with a painful, embarrassing, truthful letter to your wife full of ███████ because then you’ll know what the Administration is and isn’t reading. When you’re behind those beautiful red curtains in November and you see ███████ versus ███████, you’re reminded that you don’t really know who is making decisions for you. And then it’s never fiction again.

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About the Author

Chris O'Toole (Colorado State '12, Chapman '15) recently finished a Screenwriting MFA. He has written for Livestrong, CBS, and other publications. Love, hate, and job offers can be sent to: otool102@mail.chapman.edu