First they came for the elections, but we grew up hearing that "voting doesn't matter." A slow boil of district manipulation and a thinning pool of viable candidates made that essentially true, but still, turnout was dismal and symbols are important.
Then they yanked the reigns of the media, but we were blasted with the idea that dissent and conversation about corruption are "fake news" now. Division everywhere, a priority. TV, radio, and print sold out years ago. The web is being purged. Hijacking online conversations is a growth industry. We were told who to trust and who to scoff and it was easier than looking for ourselves.
Then they rolled back progressive laws but that only hurt "snowflakes." We figured anti-queer hate crimes and transphobia and racism were overblown. We bought into stereotypes and stopped seeing strangers as human or individuals. We didn't think the Klan was even really a thing. Seemed like a joke. A relic of a former time. How lucky we were to have such delusions as others watched their backs for lifetimes, as "lone gunmen" and badged officers alike got away with xenophobic murder.
Then they shut the gates. They started turning people away who had nowhere to go, and years of conditioning made us associate the wrong countries with "terrorism" and "job stealing." They started stopping people on planes. Asking for papers. The mask is slipping.
Then they militarized the police, and sent them after indigenous people who wanted clean water. In the cities they hired a few people to mix with peaceful protestors and break windows for the camera so they could point to the violence. They started criminalizing protests, but we took the bait and assumed it was mob rule. Miles from pipelines or the inner city hunting grounds, we figured we had nothing to shout about.
Until we did. We all do. Now what?
Turn inward and to each other now. These are the times we expected. Cross the artificial divides. Resist the death grip of the old institution as we quietly make them irrelevant.
Authority was never the friend of the people, and the pretense is finally falling away. The Germans lost the war, but plenty of Nazis got new jobs and learned to take new shapes. Biding their time and inspiring new legions. History repeats and mutates. And here we are.
This is the moment for vigilance and courage, self-empowerment and cooperative subversion. It's now or never, in a very real sense.