America is not immune to authoritarianism, and the longer we think we are, the more likely it becomes that we will succumb to it. If we do, we will lose our freedoms, we will lose our dignity, we will lose the right to call ourselves Americans.

As America falls into the breach, so, too, do freedoms worldwide. America must be the gold-standard of liberty, and as we sit back and let our government run rough-shod over our rights, we give up the very concept of lasting freedom for the world. Americans' loss of freedom has greater consequence for Americans alone; it spells the end of liberty on a global scale.

Our collective feeling that we are protected by our founding documents, and the fundamental liberties enshrined within, is continuously undermined by rhetoric claiming that those documents were written by racists and are therefore invalid.

That the men who founded our nation upheld the doctrine of natural rights is irrelevant to those who would see the nation's demise based on what has been termed her "original sin."

The 20-year remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, brought out many emotional reactions from former and current leaders, from those who were personally affected by the tragedy. While those reactions are a necessary reminder of the human tragedy the nation faced on that day, there is a legacy that we have not faced, that has compounded over these two decades, and it is one of authoritarian overreach.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to that tragedy. It was intended to investigate and thwart threats to the United States. The Patriot Act was sold to the public as a means to root out those threats as it provided the government the ability to conduct warrantless searches with no probable cause. The Patriot Act undermines liberty; the Department of Homeland Security is more concerned with white supremacy than our avowed enemies.

Each new presidential administration since George W. Bush has increased the power of that office. Through the implementation of executive orders that bypass Congress and rule by executive fiat to laws made that undermine individual liberty in favor of protecting Americans' safety. Whether health insurance mandates, domestic spying initiatives, or demanding that men who say they are women be legally treated as such, the power of the presidency impacts Americans' daily lives.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly made it clear that he misunderstands the job of the president. Biden claims it is his job to keep us safe. It isn't; it is his job to defend our rights. Americans do not have a right to safety, we have instead the right to liberty, to take our own risks, to determine our own course for happiness.

President Biden is keen on referring to America as an idea, but it is an idea he does not believe in. He enjoys instructing Americans how to live, what to believe, and how to conduct their personal health practices.

No president or lawmaker has the right to determine those things for us. So why do we keep letting them? Why do we think that in giving up our rights to these elected leaders and their cadre of experts, we are doing anything but undermining the very principles and foundations of our democracy?

We have given up too much already, yet we continue to give up more. The president has declared that every American must undergo medical treatment or be barred from earning a living or participating in public life: we sit down and nod our heads and accept it. Why?

Do we truly believe that we can give up our rights and still retain freedom? Are we as stupid as the pundits believe us to be? Or are we simply blind to the fact that America is not immune to authoritarianism?

The power wielded by authoritarians does not begin with violence and weapons guns; it is near invisible at first. That power is instead implemented through commanding a civilian force of enforcers, who enact the will of the government by shaming those who resist, who adhere to "new norms" that prohibit free thought and free movement, and disparage anyone who does not submit.

The federal government is working hard to compel citizens to enforce the will of the government on each other, and their efforts are working. In America, individuals who do not comply with government authority over their most basic freedoms are shunned. Americans are facilitating the undermining of our natural rights.

We must stand up for our rights. We must refuse to comply. Whether you believe that the government's message in itself, to get vaccinated, for example, is right or wrong is not the point. The point is that the federal government is seizing power over individual rights, over states' rights, and they must not be allowed to do it.