In these five brief opinion pieces published from 2014 - 2017, I trace out my conviction that the freedom-loving center of our societies in the U.S. and Canada is dwindling, as our democratic politics give way to encroaching authoritarian elements on the left and right sides of the spectrum. I see no short term solution but to get out and vote for centrists; a longer term approach involves a participatory element be brought into politics, as well as a needed softening of the power authority wields over citizens. Social democracy is the best we can do at present, yet it remains elusive in the U.S. and is increasingly under assault in Canada. Participatory democracy would quickly start finding solutions to environmental and resource problems, as well as addressing the remarkable imbalances of wealth and opportunity in our societies. A participatory democracy must obviously have strong safeguards against persecution and discrimination, and the system itself could invigorate public life with an ethic that "united we stand." Extremes of liberalism and conservatism present us with an existential crisis, though, and we must become involved and act before our countries descend all the way into authoritarian hatred and oppression.