“As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, ‘Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?’

When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. ‘What are you going to do?’ he asked. ‘This man is a Roman citizen.’

The commander went to Paul and asked, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’

‘Yes, I am,’ he answered.

Then the commander said, ‘I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.’

‘But I was born a citizen,’ Paul replied.

Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.”

– Acts 22:25-29

Were American citizens as free and independent as their nation’s professed ideals, it would not be difficult to convince them of a self-evident truth – that the United States government today is morally and constitutionally illegitimate.  

“Americans live under a post-Constitutional Government,” retired Army Col. Douglas MacGregor recently suggested. This thought was echoed in Judge Andrew Napolitano’s recent lament: “What if the government the Founding Fathers gave us needed our permission to do nearly everything? What if today we need the government’s permission to do nearly anything?” 

Unfortunately, U.S. citizenship in modern America means neither freedom nor independence but dependency and domination. The American citizen is saddled by a system he did not build, managed by a ruling class he did not elect, and remains hopelessly dependent on both.  

“If you could design your institution from the ground up, starting from day zero with first principles, would you design it the same way it works today?” If you posed this question to any American, especially any true professional who works in some major institution of the United States – from the healthcare system to the banking system or even the Pentagon – almost everyone would answer, “No, but don't slay my sacred cow! I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay!” 

America doesn’t have citizens anymore. Instead, she has credit card consumers trained to binge on bread and circuses; she has passive mail-ordered voters with the feckless “freedom” to choose elected leaders nearly just as feckless; she has taxpayers on the hook for sums of tribute and seigniorage not even Caesar would have dreamed of demanding.  

“Taxpayers,” “voter,” “consumer” – none of these terms are truly synonymous with “citizen.” 

Yet, despite its morally bereft and constitutionally dubious status, the United States federal government does maintain a grip on effective legitimacy due to its sheer inertia, power, and scope to control and destroy lives – and I don't just mean missiles or men with guns – but the power to destroy reputations and livelihoods. The current regime relies much more on deception than violence. It may be wise for a ruler to be both feared and loved, but fear wrapped in lies can suffice in a crisis. Often, this process of dominating the citizenry is not carried out by official government institutions but through informal power centers, such as the corporate press room, the HR department, and professional licensing boards. The managerial elite have indeed found many ingenious ways to corral the population, making a mockery of the very concept of citizenship.  

To be a citizen means you're not a serf.  

To be a citizen means you're not a subject.  

To be a citizen means you're not a slave.  

To be a citizen of the United States means you are not chattel to be fleeced and milked like a replaceable commodity. To be an American citizen means having innate God-given natural rights, pre-existing any manmade government.  

That is the American idea of citizenship. 

Yet, that tradition of citizenship – an idea as old as the crossroads of Rome and Christ – seems to have been almost forgotten by the people of America today. 

“In a 2017 poll taken by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, most Americans appeared ignorant of the fundamentals of the US Constitution,” writes Victor Davis Hanson in his 2021 book, “The Dying Citizen: How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America.” 

Thirty-seven percent could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment. Only one out of four Americans could name all three branches of government. One in three could not name any branch of government. In a 2018 survey conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, almost 75 percent of those polled were not able to identify the thirteen original colonies. Over half had no idea whom the United States fought in World War II. Less than 25 percent knew why colonists had fought the Revolutionary War. Twelve percent thought Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded troops in the Civil War.” 

Indeed, only when the American people begin to remember their birthright – that they are free citizens with God-given rights and duties – will there be any chance for the flogging to stop.  

Then, maybe those who have draped the American citizen in chains for so long will be reminded of what it means when free men, denied their liberty on earth, make an appeal to heaven.

Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and is currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback, please email [email protected]. Follow him on X @TheJoeyClark or watch the radio show livestream.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected]

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