Almost a century ago, my paternal grandfather Pablito de Gracia was among the first Filipinos to come to Hawaii in search of freedom and a better life. I never knew him personally because he died of a heart attack in his early forties, having worked so hard to realize a dream of freedom and personal prosperity that never came to him. On the night Pablito’s heart failed, as he was dying his final thoughts were to use his remaining strength to run to my then-infant father’s crib. He passed away slumped against the rails, uttering the final words “God, please don’t let my son end up like me.”

Like my grandfather, millions of other immigrants throughout our nation’s history came to the United States because they were drawn to the shining promises of economic freedom, the right to personal privacy and the opportunity to pursue happiness without government standing in their way. We have come to call those things “the American Dream” but as the Founding Fathers recognized, they are inalienable rights that all men deserve as beings created in God’s image.

Today’s America brings great dishonor to both the Founding Fathers and men like my grandfather who believed in liberty and the promise of our Republic. Washington DC’s iron fist is squeezing to death our civil liberties and our economic opportunities. We are no longer treated as citizens to be protected and revered but as potential suspects to be monitored and controlled. In a nation whose revolution started with men like Patrick Henry reviling in horror at a man scourged to death for not taking a license, today our government believes it has the right to indefinitely detain without trial and even torture individuals it deems enemies of the state.

We need to consider the great height from which our nation has fallen and pursue with all speed the restoration of our founding principles and freedoms. James Madison wrote that in the instance of a deliberate, palpable and dangerous exercise of powers not granted by the Constitution the states are duty bound to arrest what he called “the progress of the evil and for maintaining … the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.” Madison wisely called the encroachments of our freedoms “evil.” Even as evil prospers when good men do nothing, tyranny destroys a republic when we fail to act upon the wisdom of our Constitution.

Today every city and every state in the nation has a responsibility to rise up and to stop these evil unconstitutional abuses and power grabs. Nullification needs to be more than a legal theory in the minds of our legislators, it must become reality. The municipalities and states must not be complicit in drone surveillance, the murder without trial of U.S. citizens (abroad or at home), detention without trial or imprisonment simply for failing to buy healthcare insurance. We are living in evil times and evil must be opposed by the righteous courage to say “HELL NO!” to unconstitutional wickedness.

Do not listen to those who say that nullification is unpatriotic. It is, in fact, the most patriotic thing our states and people can do. When I was in ROTC many years ago, the first thing cadets were taught was to recognize legitimate authority through by-the-numbers drill commands. When an improper command is given to cadets in drill formation, the cadets do not execute it but firmly sound off as one voice, “SIR, AS YOU WERE, SIR!” This is not an act of disobedience, but a key part of training that instills absolute adherence to code, honor and tradition. In like manner, it’s time for all of our states and their legislators to sound off with a bold, unyielding and unified voice to Washington D.C. that it has exceeded its authority and we will not execute the commands.

We are now living in an era where for the first time Americans were less free and prosperous than their fathers and grandfathers before them. Like my grandfather Pablito, liberty is dying against the rails of America’s future generation. Let us not permit the flame of freedom to be extinguished on our watch. The rallying cry of freedom for our present time is simple:

Nullify now.

Danny de Gracia, II

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