The answer to that question is not a Boolean. First you must establish what the rules are, the boundaries set forth for the government and the people. The exceptional thing about the USA was that the Founding Fathers created the USA with the intent to flip the tables of every other modern nation at the time. They started with the Articles of Confederation which acknowledged State sovereignty and inherent rights not granted by the government but “God given” rights. Later they created the core establishing document; the US Constitution to set out certain rights as unalienable. After some discord a series of amendments known as the “Bill of Rights” were adopted and amended to the Constitution to further secure those rights. The Constitution was unique, it constrained the government, not the people. It limited governmental powers and cemented individual rights. The USA was built upon individualism.
Once those boundaries are established it is simple to identify when the government oversteps. Unfortunately, when people are uneducated in their rights and rules of the nation, they are unable to recognize when they are being denied. The citizen’s lack of understanding regarding their rights has reached such proportions that even those who are the people’s representatives demonstrate a complete lack of understanding. When your governmental representatives don’t recognize intentionally or through ignorance the citizen’s rights everything collapses.
The Whole Story
The sting of battle was fresh in the minds of those who framed our nation. The British has commandeered property, homes, livestock, without remuneration, for their use leaving thousands of people homeless and destitute. Thus the 3rd amendment was adopted. Many were jailed prior to the Revolution for “crimes” without due process. The US Constitutional amendments known as the Bill of Rights established the underpinning for our system of law. They specifically added the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments to define citizen's rights and protections against the law and the government.
- 4th Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause as determined by a neutral judge or magistrate.
- 5th Sets out rules for formal accusation by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
- 5th Sets out rules for indictment by grand jury and eminent domain, protects the right to due process, and prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
- 6th Protects the right to a fair and speedy public trial by jury, including the rights to be notified of the accusations, to confront the accuser, to obtain witnesses and to retain counsel.
- 7th Provides for the right to trial by jury in certain civil cases, according to common law.
- 8th Prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
There are other government documents that establish further constraints upon the government. One example is the Posse Comitatus, it constrains the use and operation of the US Military in the homeland. (Refer to Posse Comitias.)
Enlighten yourself to your rights. Read, study, make yourself aware. You are your first line of defense in the protection of such an awesome gift. Eternal vigilance is the key. I know that means work, and history tells that even when being systematically starved to death as happened in Poland, Germany, and the Ukraine, only a few did anything to fight back. In each of those areas the people in the area far outnumbered their oppressors. But still they did nothing. Starve to death slowly, or possibly die saving your children. The Soviet government hung posters all over the Ukraine imploring the people to not eat their children.
During 2016 through 2018 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey has systematically removed Turkey’s Supreme Court Justices, top military personnel, and more. His actions raise alarm bells. He claims to be looking to loosen overbearing secularism in the interest of the people. The New Yorker wrote,
“The Turkish military has often served as the nation’s firewall against encroachments on secularism and the Constitution, guarding the aspirations of its founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The tension between secularism and religious fundamentalism is as essential to understanding today’s Turkish political life as is the tension between federalism and states’ rights in America.” (Read More)
The removal of Supreme Court Justices and others has raised concerns. Turkey has been a secular democracy since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the constitution. It is too soon to know how it will end. Erdoğan has hijacked the press, ordered the assassination of opposing government and military leaders. These acts are not signs of fair governance, they smell like totalitarian, dictatorial behaviors. The free world watches with concern.
It is much more difficult to create or take back rights that have been forfeited than to maintain them.
The only way that US citizens will be able guarantee that the government does not ignore or impede those rights is through transparency and citizen oversight. All security safety is the of the citizen individual. Always remember as Machiavelli said there are no friends in politics. (Click here to read the article on Machiavelli.) Vigilance is our best protection. Apathy cedes our rights to those who would take them from us.