Politics is downstream of culture. We hear it all the time, we see it when we turn on our televisions, listen to the radio or walk down Main Street. Andrew Breitbart understood this innately, putting words to what is right in front of our eyes. He showed Americans what went on behind closed doors in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. That corruption and money, coupled with power and control, could twist society apart faster than any law Congress could ever consider passing.

Culture numbs us to the decays of our society. It pushes the limits of what is acceptable. It uses tolerance and acceptance, twisting it into celebration and celebrity. It says that striving to be better, even though we will sometimes fall short, makes others feel bad, so instead we should revere all that is wrong with society and protect self esteem.

American culture and history is more than unfettered free market capitalism and wealth acquisition. It is more than the current race to the bottom where nothing matters and everything is okay. We are not a culture built on the worst of our citizens, but one of always aspiring to be its best.

It is a history built on rebellion and revolution against tyranny in any form. On risk and faith. And on the absolute divine hand that guided men and women to dare to take on the Crown.

It is worth clinging to. With both hands.

Modern society wants to tear down what it doesn’t agree with. No discussion, just destruction. Efforts reminiscent of Marxist struggle sessions to counter “wrong think” are camouflaged as outrage mobs on social media and in the protests against monuments to history and those who wrote it. Free speech, the most fundamental of our rights, is met with calls for violence and vandalism.

There is an ever-increasing pitch to push the envelope. A constant barrage of attack points to move America further away from that shared history and towards a future where a bureaucrat decides how many rolls of toilet paper you get to buy.

We are sold comfort and security as keys to happiness. Government becomes a panacea for all that ails, leaving us free to worry about sports scores instead of the consequences of giving unfettered and unaccountable power to men and women catering to the interests of those with the biggest wallet and the most to gain.

We’ve allowed situational ethics to replace morality and then wonder where the rot comes from.

We have become afraid of the plain spoken truth and prefer to hear well-spoken lies that reinforce our views of the world around us.

By not discussing the foundational ideas, or speaking those plain truths, we lose more and more of that American heritage. We retreat ever inward, further inside both our tribes and ourselves. With no room for unpopular opinion in culture, politics has become the battleground of our “nothing matters” culture.

There is no respect for the Republic, just political point scoring and viral conquering of an enemy. We have concentrated power to a class of citizens that think they are untouchable, a self-styled elite class whose members follow their own rules, free accumulate more power, shielding themselves behind issues meant to divide.

It is time for plain spoken truth. It is time to call out the bad actors, no matter the political bent or stripe. It is time for a reckoning, one that can help restore a faith in not just our government, but our country and our fellow citizens.

And it’s been a long time coming.

It is time to reclaim the inheritance that the founders left for our citizens. It is time to become participants in our republic in a meaningful way. And it is time for everyday Americans to stand up and embrace the rebel spirit that runs through the veins of every American.

Our government has lost its fear of and respect for its citizens, because we have not held our leaders accountable.

They have convinced us it is too hard to fix, that one person cannot alone make a difference, that a fundamental transformation of our constitutional republic is already a forgone conclusion.

It’s not.

But averting that requires many individuals saying they have the will to see it through. That no matter the cost, those who subvert the power granted them will be held to answer for their bad actions. That an allegiance to political labels in not what is ultimately important. Continuing a nation that epitomizes individual freedom is.

Beyond the daily political saga that are the Trump years, the questions of what we expect from our government are languishing. Does our nation allow a select group of political appointees commit what can only be described as a seditious plot to overthrow the legitimate election of a president?

Will we allow segments of the government to accuse opponents of foreign influence, with the backing of government power, as they themselves conspired with foreign actors for political and monetary gain? Will we call out those who use the American government to influence other nation’s elections the way that we call out nations that wish to cause us harm and division? Will we bring justice to out-of-control federal investigators whose preferred candidate suffered electoral losses?

Will our country be a society of a proletariat class that protects themselves at all costs, while the plebes are forever paying for society’s ills and bad decisions?

And most importantly, will we continue to allow those who have managed the decline of our nation make the biggest decisions we face?

Let’s face it, we aren’t sending Washington our best.

Trump is an imperfect man. His imperfections allow regular people to hold up a mirror and find that much of what is valued in our society is actually lacking. Our news is funded by foreign governments and publicity shop gurus uninterested in finding truth, but in pushing narratives. Our corporations emphasize profit over people and community. Our Congress is in a perpetual state of campaign, rewarding those who accumulate political spoils and favors. We want no responsibility toward others, then wonder why no one cares anymore.

It is the very definition of insanity, and of national suicide.

It is a time for convictions, not opinions. It is time for those who normally stay silent to stand up and push back.

We elected a lightning rod to our highest office, against all prevailing wisdom. He has withstood the slings and arrows of the professional class in D.C. and is still standing tall.

It is time for citizens to admit that while we may have lost focus on something beyond ourselves, we were also lacking. It is time for freedom to prevail over security and comfort.

It is time to be proud of our American heritage again, the good and bad, to reclaim the ideals we were founded on.

A nation depends on it.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.