The biggest threat to the homeland may actually be the homeland itself.
That’s the startling assessment of Pat Proctor, a state representative from Leavenworth and one of Kansas’ leading authorities on homeland security – as well as the newly installed chairman of the Homeland Security Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which helps state legislatures advance such principles as liberty and limited government.
Asked by The Heartlander what the top threats to America are, Proctor – also an assistant professor of homeland security at Wichita State University – doesn’t point to foreign adversaries.
Instead, he cites what the country is doing to itself – in particular, the open border, distrust in election results and the weaponization of federal law enforcement agencies against Americans – as well as its collusion with Big Tech to silence dissidents on social media.
He’s also horrified by the political divisiveness that is rending the very fabric of the nation.
“Just look at what is going on in our country right now,” Proctor said. “You know, Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not our biggest threats anymore. Are they a threat? Yes. Do we need to remain vigilant? Yes. But this is this is my lesson from the entire global War on Terror, is that somebody coming from another country getting in a plane and running it into the tallest building in the world – somebody getting in a plane and running it into the seat of our national security – didn’t even make a dent in our country. If anything, it made us stronger as a country. It brought us together.
“It’s not going to be some shadowy non-state actor from abroad. It’s going to be us. We’re going to destroy the American project from within.”
America’s primary path to self-destruction is currently the open border, he says, with all the human and drug smuggling and terrorist border-hopping that entails.
“I think this flood of humanity that’s crossing our border every day is our biggest threat. Not just that we don’t know who’s coming in. It’s people from all over the world. We’ve already caught people at the border that are on the terror watch list. How many didn’t we catch that have come across the border?
“But more than that, I am very concerned about changing the nature and character of our country. You’ve got all these folks that, their first act in the United States is breaking the law. And now their second act is joining the underground economy, and violating labor laws to work.
“They’re here because they want to make a better living than they can make in their own country. And God bless them for that. But I think it’s a threat to the security of the United States that we’ve got people just strolling across the border and we have no idea who’s coming into our country or what they’re bringing with them.”
With such an open border, Proctor says we’re all border states now. And he’s alarmed to learn, as chairman of the ALEC task force on homeland security, that Kansas – with busy interstate highways I-70 and I-35 crisscrossing the state – has no laws against human smuggling.
Which is often no different than slavery, he says.
“So, if a state trooper pulls over a van full of illegals coming from El Paso, I guess you could give them a ticket. That’s about it. There’s no law against it.”
Election security, and the public’s perception of it, also are dual threats to the homeland, Proctor says.
“It’s about the fundamental underpinnings of our form of government. Not just the threats to the integrity of our elections, but the doubts about the validity of our elections are a grave threat to our country.
“The other side’s solution to the problem is to scream and call you a conspiracy theorist and stupid if you don’t agree that every election has zero flaws. And I don’t think that’s helpful. I think that there is room for us to do things that don’t keep anybody from voting, but increase public confidence that their vote counts as much as everybody else’s vote, and nobody’s voting who’s not supposed to.
“I think there’s public good in that, and so I think that it’s something we definitely need to address.”
Proctor is in a unique position to do so, as the newly appointed chair of the Kansas House Committee on Elections. One way to shore up election integrity in Kansas, he suggests, is to require all ballots to be in by Election Day, and eliminate the state’s three-day grace period.
When doing that was debated last legislative session, opponents claimed it would disenfranchise minorities, which Proctor finds a repugnant argument.
“What really is offensive to me is when opponents come in and say that it’s discriminatory to minority voters to not have a grace period,” he says. “That is racist. To say that a person of color can’t figure out the rules as well as a white person is offensive. And you know, I can’t even believe they say it out loud.
“You know, Kansans are smart. If you tell them what the rules are, they’ll follow the rules.”
On the weaponization of federal law enforcement, Proctor says laws have historically been passed to counter foreign threats such as during the “red scare” and after 9-11. But those laws can be, and have been, used against the country’s own citizens.
“Over time, those laws start to get used to persecute people with legitimate grievances against their government – that are pursuing redressing their grievances in legitimate, legal ways.
“I think that’s happening again.
“I think the way that the FBI was pressuring social media companies to suppress information to tip an election – the way that the (Department of Justice went after) parents at school board meetings that don’t want their children scandalized with sexual content – I think that that’s a threat to the future of our country.”
As for political divisiveness, the retired U.S. Army colonel from Leavenworth has seen the results of tribalism firsthand during tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan.
America’s spiral into competing, contentious factions, urged on daily by some in political leadership, predates the riots and unrest following George Floyd’s 2020 death. But the division and discord have only gotten worse, Proctor notes.
“I’ve become more deeply concerned as it has metastasized since then – to rip our multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democratic republic apart into these tribes. And the reason that it concerns me so much is because I’ve seen what a country that is fractured into tribes does to itself, in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, I do not want that for my country.
“What we don’t understand as Americans, I think sometimes, is just how unique and how precious what we have is: people from every walk of life, every station, every ethnic background, every racial background, every religious background, or no religious background at all, have all agreed on a basic set of principles that makes us one nation.
“They’re the things that we used to learn in school – about equal justice under the law, and everybody’s created equal, and we’re all endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. And that is the sinew that keeps us together as one nation, even though we’re all different – and we’re much more different than any other group that has ever come together in the history of the world to govern itself.
“And this effort by some people in this country to take a hacksaw to those sinews and fragment and disintegrate this country – I will fight that to my dying day. That is so destructive of this special thing that we have here as a country, and I’ll do everything in my power to fight against it.”
The good news, Proctor says, is his experience with the American Legislative Exchange Council has shown him that, whatever homeland security leadership is lacking in Washington, D.C., state legislators are on it.
“The sovereign states are not sitting around wringing their hands waiting for the federal government to give them a solution to this problem. They’re rolling up their sleeves and they’re getting to work,” he says.
Ordinary residents need to stand up and speak out about these domestic threats to homeland security, he cautions, exhorting citizens to call or email their state lawmakers “and tell them what you think about what’s going on in our country and ask them to do what they can to fix it.
“And if we all do that across Kansas and across the country, we can address these problems ourselves. That’s how the Framers envisioned this country from the beginning, is that the states are sovereign, and that these solutions would percolate up out of the states, not be handed down from on high by the federal government.”