America is in trouble because Americans got lazy. Not so much physically but morally. They began to care more about some passing thing than about the things that truly matter; the things that made America, unlike other places.
Better than other places.
Things like principles; the plain meaning of words. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments, especially. Which were (past tense deliberate) laws written to articulate and protect principles that matter.
It gradually became more important to – as Thomas More’s character in the play, A Man For All Seasons put it – cut down all the “trees” (laws) that sheltered the individual for the sake of making things easier for the government.
For example, the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches – defined insane terms and plain English as any non-specific search of people at random, who’ve not done anything to suggest they may have committed a crime. Fishing expeditions, in other words.
The idea was that the government should have to – in the first place – substantiate suspicion. It wasn’t enough for a cop to say – I don’t like your looks. He had to be able to articulate some definite thing (evidence) that gave him reason to believe you had committed or were about to commit a crime.
Today, cops stop people at random, without any specific cause at all. Without even having to say they don’t like their looks. It is enough that they are cops. And that you are not.
It was once the case that prior to a physical search of your property, it was legally necessary to obtain a search warrant – a piece of paper issued by a judge, who was supposed to issue the thing only if the investigator asking for it could present some definite thing (evidence) that supported his asserted suspicion of criminal activity. And the warrant had to be specific, stating clearly who was to be searched and what and where. This was to prevent something that used to be routine in the colonies under the British – the general writ, which empowered King George’s minions to search anyone, anywhere for anything.
Today’s redcoats wear blue (and lately, black). They search whomever, whatever, whenever.
We are even coerced into witnessing against ourselves via threats that failure to do will bring down separate charges and punishments.
Is this America?
I do not recognize it as such.
How did we get to this point?
The change occurred gradually but has become a juggernaut for the simple reason that precedent becomes routine. Once accepted, an affront is forgotten. It not only becomes accepted – it becomes acceptable to do it again. (Which, as an aside, is why this Obamacare business is so important. If it stands, if Trump does not repeal – not replace – it, it is certain we will shortly be forced to also buy other forms of government-mandated insurance; for example, gun insurance, if you want to own a gun.)
But when did it begin to become acceptable?