Augustus Sol Invictus vs. The United States of America
11 November 2015
Good evening. My name is Augustus Invictus, and I am a candidate for United States Senate. Now, the job of any candidate for public office is to sell you the American Dream. Every Republican and Democrat you will hear from in the next twelve months is going to tell you all about how you can get the house of your dreams, live the life you want, and be part of a new and better America. Whether that means lowering taxes or raising them, allowing more immigrants or deporting more, strengthening the federal or the State government – well those are just questions of means. The end, the goal, the promise is all the same: you, the voter, will be free, comfortable, safe, and proud of the place you call home.
But I am sick to death of this game, and I think a growing number of our fellow citizens are, too. This silly back-and-forth, with politicians making promises to get votes, citizens voting to get what they want – (not what is best for the country!) – politicians failing to deliver, citizens becoming disillusioned all over again, new politicians making new & better promises, and citizens willfully voting for the same two parties and then being outraged all over again when nothing changes.
Honestly, does this not baffle anyone else? Every. single. election cycle. you see the same thing. It is no different than watching a drug addict who keeps taking pills day after day, thinking “this is going to be the day I feel good” and then wondering why his life is falling apart around him. To those of us watching from the outside, it is unbelievable: we cannot understand that logic. But it is also discouraging. And to those of us who really care, it is heartbreaking.
Unlike the other candidates in this race, I don’t sell false hopes to the willfully ignorant. I am not here to sell you the American Dream or to promise every black man forty acres and a mule or to put my hand on a stack of Bibles and swear that every citizen is going to be rich by the end of my first term as Senator. I speak an entirely different message, and that is this:
I want you all to suffer. I want you to know what it’s like when the cops run up on you with hostility and a drawn firearm. I want you to know what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck and worry about how your family is going to eat this week. I want you to know what it’s like to be homeless and at the mercy of others. I want you to know hunger; betrayal; broken bones; lost love; disillusionment; exhaustion; deprivation; fear; the hatred of the mob.
Suffering purifies us. It turns what is lead in us into gold. It is not our fully-financed automobiles, our mortgaged homes, our maxed-out credit cards that will solve the crisis we now face. Neither will legal marijuana or lower taxes or free healthcare prevent the collapse of our republic. If we are to change this country and the very course of history, we must have titanic strength. We must be as strong and as fearless as the first generation of Romans, who founded their city on the Seven Hills; as courageous and iron-willed as that generation of Spaniards who drove out the invaders in the Reconquista; as rebellious and unrepentant as that generation of Colonial Americans who, when their Government turned hostile toward its people, overthrew it and made a new one.
Now these generations that changed all of human history, what did they have in common? Well, none of them had televisions to distract them for hours on end from the cruel facts of life. None of them had the Internet to fool them into thinking they had a voice when they really didn’t. None of them had marijuana and Adderall and oxycotin and a hundred other things to escape the synthetic civilization suffocating us all.
But more than this, they all understood that suffering is part of life – no, further, that suffering is the foundation of nobility. They knew that the most important thing in life was not the mindless pursuit of temporary happiness but the struggle for life itself. It seems that once we are freed of this existential struggle we become something lesser. Peace and comfort and convenience make us weak, lazy, self-indulgent; we become blinded by all the vanities we think matter, and we fall in love with all the things that we know full well corrupt the souls of men & women. If we are to become one of those great generations that alter the course of human history, then we must first & foremost stop trying to avoid pain. We must stop sheltering ourselves for fear of the slings & arrows of Life.
When Mr. Englund arranged for me to speak here tonight, he had to fill out a form, and that form asked him what the topic would be. Well I am horrible at answering my phone, so he was on his own, and he said I would be speaking on the reason I went into politics. And that happened to be fortuitous, because it is not something I have ever really discussed, save in interviews, and even then it has not been at great length.
So let us begin at an arbitrary date of ten years ago today, when my twin boys were only a little over a month old, my daughter was three, and my wife and I lived in a poor, Hispanic neighborhood in South Orlando. I was a college dropout working as a pharmacy technician. I had been writing a book for over a year, but it would be another year and a half before that was finished. I had no accomplishments to speak of; I had achieved nothing in life. My wife’s family never thought I would amount to much, and the way things were going, they were probably right. I had been involuntarily separated from the military, which is a nice way of saying I was kicked out, and which was an enduring mark of shame for me and for my family. I was on drugs; I had no clear goals in life; I was ill-tempered and unforgiving. Looking back, I really have no idea what my wife ever saw in me. But we were comfortable, I provided for my family, and I was happy to be with my wife and children. And as time went on, we had a beautiful home in a gated community, we had a dog and all the fine furniture and jewelry and whatever else anyone would need, and we traveled to Paris and vacationed in Chicago and, basically, lived the American Dream for a time.
Then one day, as I was typing at the computer at work, and I heard someone behind me say, “DEA. Get up and move into the other room.” Assuming it was a joke, I turned back casually, but to my surprise there was a man in a jacket clearly lettered DEA, a firearm at his side. So we all got up and went into the break room, where they corralled us like cattle. They went around kicking in doors and seizing everything they could. And then we were all told to leave. This was just before Thanksgiving, and I had plenty of money, so I was actually glad to have the vacation. But it turned out that the owners of the pharmacy were not going to fight this raid in court, and so it came to pass that we were all out of work for good. The owners had made their millions of dollars, and they had no interest in fighting what I saw as a despicable injustice.
This pharmacy was not a CVS or a Walgreens. This was what the DEA and the media called a “pill mill.” Doctors would write prescriptions, often without an in-person physical, and our pharmacy would fill those prescriptions. I was a lowly supervisor at the end of my time there, and I didn’t know anything about the legality of any of this, except for what the lawyer told us. He had come into the pharmacy to give us all a talk about what to do when the DEA comes knocking. And this lawyer assured us that nothing illegal was taking place. The DEA, he said, was just upset about pharmacies like ours, but there was no law against it, so we had nothing to worry about.
Well this was not the whole truth. Certainly there was no law against what the pharmacy was doing; but I found out a couple years later in law school that the DEA has a different perspective on what law means, exactly. We had a lawyer from the DEA speak to our class on international criminal law, and he explained to us that the DEA’s interpretation of the law is that if the Legislature has not allowed for it, then it is prohibited.
For those of you who are not lawyers, let me explain to you how warped that is. Our American legal system was inherited from England. We are, by default, in favor of liberty, and this is very much owing to the political history of England. I will spare you a retelling of that history, though it is fascinating, and skip to the part where we write laws to prohibit conduct; and those laws must be specific; and if the law does not prohibit conduct, then that conduct is allowed. That is the foundation of our system of Government – or at least it is supposed to be. But the policy of the Drug Enforcement Agency is that if the Federal Government does not allow you to do something, then you are not allowed to do it. That alone is reason enough to overthrow our Government. Think of how radical a shift that is in our legal system from the days our Constitution was first adopted.
But let us return to the story I was telling. The pharmacy was eventually shut down, and I was out of a job. My wife was caring for three children and expecting a fourth. No comparable job existed for me, and we were effectively rendered destitute. Now, the DEA was not after me. They were not targeting my family. They were after the people I worked for; their target was the pharmacy. I meant nothing to them, and neither did my family, and that is why I say that we were collateral damage of the drug war. My family’s fall was not the aim of the Federal Government; but it was certainly the result of its policies.
In any event, all law and discussion and circumstance aside, I was furious. I blamed the Drug Enforcement Agency, and I blamed every single one of its agents involved in that so-called raid for what happened to my family. I swore vengeance on the DEA and vowed that I would return to college, go to law school, and enter into politics and that one day I would shut their office down and put their families on the street. I moved my wife and children to a one-bedroom apartment in Orlando, and I remained in Tampa, where I started classes at the University of South Florida living in my car.
That was the initial catalyst. That was what moved me from where I was to embark upon this journey to the United States Senate. But now, all these years later, I see the affair a bit differently. I see now that it was my own poor planning that hurt my family in the long run. It was my own refusal to return to college and live up to my potential that got me into that mess in the first place. And now, all these years later, I see the whole affair as a blessing. Were it not for the aggression of the Federal Government, I would not be who I am today. I might still be who I was ten years ago. It was hardship, and loss, and suffering that got me here.
But aside from this particular incident, were it not for the cops harassing me when I was a teenager; were it not for the ill-treatment by law enforcement that I have dealt with since becoming a lawyer; were it not for the investigations that have been conducted on me in the past couple years; I might not be such a fierce advocate for civil liberties. I might not be running for such a high office at such a young age. I might not be so driven to end the corruption we all know exists, but to which we all turn a blind eye when it does not affect us directly.
When the SWAT team isn’t kicking in your door, it’s someone else’s problem. When the FBI is not recording your phone calls, it’s just an abstract legal argument, isn’t it? And when narcotics officers are looking to put some stranger’s brother or sister in prison for 25 years, what does that have to do with you? I say that without judgment, because I might very well have the same perspective, had I not been through the things I have been through.
So let us now take another event that set me at odds with the Federal Government, an incident oft-recited in the media but only very rarely considered. Everyone who knows me knows that I have said that I was born for a Great War. Everyone knows the story of me vowing to disappear into the wilderness and return to lead the Second Civil War. But this is another story that, though it resurfaces in many interviews, has never been discussed at length.
This all comes from a letter that I wrote in April of 2013, in the middle of a thirty-day religious initiation. What many of the news stories often fail to mention is that several people called the FBI because of that letter. Some of them, at least, thought that I had snapped, that I was about to go on a shooting rampage or blow up a building. Some of these were people I had known for years, but the fact that they did not bother to simply pick up the phone and call me is perhaps an issue for another time. And the issue of the media’s treatment of revolutionary speech is also something about which I have plenty to say. But the long and short of it is that the FBI did in fact begin to surveil me and interrogate my friends and family from Florida to California.
One day I left the area under surveillance and didn’t come back. Late the next day, I got a message from someone at the FBI:
Dear Augustus Sol Invictus,
We want to check on your welfare. A number of people who know you have expressed concerns about you after your Facebook postings –specifically your address, “To the Grey World of Man,” and your subsequent disappearance. I have a duty to follow up on concerns like these that are brought to my attention. Winter Park Police Department contacted us and let us know they spoke with your mother and that you left a voicemail. A considerable amount of time has elapsed since then. Are you alright? Would you be willing to contact me? If you truly are on a religious pilgrimage we respect that and do not want to disturb you. Please let us know you are alright and if we can help you.
I won’t tell you who signed it, because much later on he proved not to be such a bad guy, and I want to think that the FBI does have good agents, even if the Bureau itself is corrupted beyond salvation. And unlike the DEA, I would like to think that the FBI actually does serve some kind of purpose beyond terrorizing the American people. Maybe that sounds naïve, but I am trying to be charitable.
My response was this:
I find it conveniently timed that you should write me as soon as I disappeared from the area covered by your surveillance vehicles. I also find it disconcerting that the Winter Park police would tell me that I would be left alone if I would “just give [them] a call to let [them] know [I’m] still alive.” I have no reason to contact you: I have broken no laws, and considering the aforementioned misrepresentations by law enforcement, you cannot be trusted.
But worry not: tomorrow I will be publishing a second letter, and you will know exactly where I am and where I am going, so there is no need to tell your boss that you have lost track of me.
To address your inquiries, yes, I am perfectly fine, and yes, this really is a religious pilgrimage, both of which facts you already know full well, assuming you are not completely incompetent at your job.
In the meantime, betwixt now and whenever it is that I actually break a law, I would appreciate it if you would stop surveillance and check-up calls on my friends & family. After all, the American public might become outraged knowing that you were spending so much time and keeping such close tabs on a religious pilgrim, even a pagan one.
Well, I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. The American public did not become outraged, and in fact they were the very ones going to the media and to law enforcement trying to have me crucified. I learned a very important lesson in all of this: The Federal Government of the United States is what it is because that is what the American people want.
The FBI did not stop interrogating my friends and family, and the Bureau did not cease its investigation. Despite the cordiality the Agent and I would later share, he outright lied to me about respecting the fact that I was on a religious pilgrimage. But if you look down into the deep, dark core of this entire affair, is that Agent to blame? He has a score of panicked, clucking chickens calling him frantically to rant and rave about this bloodthirsty monster about to climb a clock tower with a sniper rifle. What else is he supposed to do? If I hadbombed a building in the Spring of 2013; if I had gone out and murdered innocent civilians; and that FBI Agent had done nothing to stop me; how could he ever sleep at night?
So unlike the meddlesome bullies at the DEA who aren’t worth their weight in grease, I can be understanding about the FBI agents who have to listen to my phone calls and read my emails now. They are in a precarious position, especially if they are actually listening to what I am saying. They work for a corrupt government, which, unless they are severely mentally deficient, they know full well; and yet they must follow its orders, despite that corruption, because to resign or to do nothing might mean total chaos, at least to their minds. I understand the position they are in, because it is the same position I see many lawyers in, who have to prosecute someone on a drug crime they find to be a waste of time, or who have to defend someone they know to be a total scumbag, because it is their professional duty to do so.
Neither do I much fault the U.S. Marshals for coming after me, for interrogating my family, for lying to me about taking me off their watch list after saying that stopping me in the federal courthouse was “just a misunderstanding.” It was not the Marshals who took it upon themselves to investigate me and have me cleared every time I have to go to court; it was the lawyers in Downtown Orlando who took it upon themselves to call the authorities and say, “I’m scared of that man. He says mean things. Please keep him away from me.”
Listen, our Government is the way it is because the American people have become cowards. That might cost me more than a few votes, but someone in a leadership position needs to tell you that, and no one in my position except me can afford to tell you that. But it is the God’s honest truth. It was my colleagues, my acquaintances, my higher education administrators who called the authorities. It was someone in my own religious order who called the FBI. It was someone at my graduate business school who called the Winter Park Police Department. It was someone with whom I work that called the U.S. Marshals. It was, years later, someone in my own political party who called the FBI again and then contacted the DEA to find out about the pharmacy incident that happened all those years ago.
Nevermind the irony of self-described Libertarians calling the Federal Government to report on one of their own; look past that to the bigger picture: Americans want the Federal Government to deal with people like me. The concept of freedom shared by many of Our Fellow Americans can be boiled down to: Let me smoke my weed and watch my TV shows, and y’all government folk can do whatever you want, as long as it isn’t to me.
I am often forced to quote another lawyer-philosopher who said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” That is no less true of modern America than it was of our forefathers under the Crown of King George. It is no less true of our government than it was of the Russians under the Tsar Nicholas II or the French under King Louis XVI.
We may have many various concerns in our lives. We may have different priorities and perspectives on things. But we all face one, everlasting political question: Are we slaves, or are we free?
If you need to call the cops when someone breaks into your home, you are a slave.
If you need to call the DEA because someone is dealing drugs to the kids in your neighborhood, you are a slave.
And if you need to call the FBI because you fear your neighbor is a terrorist, you are a slave.
If you need the Government to swoop in and save you and your family and your community from all the nasty things in life, then you have far worse problems than burglars and drug dealers and terrorists. You have lost your very dignity. You are that drug addict who fails to realize why his life is falling apart around him. You are what is wrong with America.
Do not call the cops on a burglar: shoot him.
Do not call the DEA on someone giving drugs to kids: make an example of him yourself.
Do not call the FBI to spy on your neighbor: confront him on your own.
This culture we have developed, in which we all spy on each other and tattle-tell to big daddy Government, is sickening. Are Americans men & women? Or are they well-trained dogs?
I say this not to insult anyone here, but to shock you out of your slumber. My aim is not to belittle anyone here, but to point out to you a brutal truth that has long gone unspoken by those in power, by those who have a vested interest in keeping you as good slaves: You cannot be a free man and the government’s lapdog at the same time.
All those years ago, I swore to enter into politics because I had been wronged. But now, with what wisdom experience has deemed fit to give me, I see that this is a far greater crisis than one family being ruined. The Federal Government ruins countless lives every single day – but even that is not the true problem. The heart of the matter is a spiritual crisis, a question of values, a question of whether we cherish comfort and safety and the servility that comes along with those things, or whether we want to take responsibility for our own lives and the hardship that follows that choice.
That is why I say that I want you all to suffer. Suffering turns what is lead in us into gold. And only after we abandon this notion that comfort and stability is the great aim of all human life can we join the ranks of those generations that changed all of human history.
Please do vote for me next fall, and buy our t-shirt and wear it in the meantime; please tell all your friends and sign the petition to get me on the ballot and donate to the campaign. But most importantly, go home tonight and consider well what you have heard. Make the decision for yourself whether you are fine being comfortable and cared for by a System you know to be corrupt beyond repair – or whether you are ready to stand up for yourself and take your country back.