How could such a cultured people allow themselves and their nation to be hijacked? Well, the answer is as simple as it is complicated.
As the founders of this nation knew, if you do not reference everything on individual liberty, then the drift will be steady and clear; a stronger and stronger central state.
People are human, and therefor imperfect. Either you accept those imperfections, or you strive in vain to correct them.
In modern times from the terror of the French Revolution to the killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia, the self-appointed elite who gained power and then decided that because of their superior wisdom - they can only they can fix the human condition ... well, you know the rest of the story.
Great thing about this nation is that it was formed at the height of The Enlightenment - before the turn towards Statism that characterized the 19th and 20th Centuries. The founders knew that it was best to have the chaos of the individual than the boot of the State.
To keep this system requires a free people who wish to remain free. The Founders set up a lot of firebreaks to protect future depredations by those with an authoritarian mindset - but as firebreaks can be built, they can also be broken down by the people they are designed to protect.
Like someone who takes the top off a levee to improve his view - giving up protection is fine when there is not danger - but when you really need it, it isn't there anymore and cannot be rebuilt overnight.
In our body politic we have plenty of people who are willing to give up a little freedom they have now, for the promise of additional safety later. History shows that every time this happens, you wind up with neither your freedom or your safety - but you only know that if you know your history.
One of the worst of the budding totalitarians is Mayor Bloomberg. As with some totalitarians, they start small. Smoking, food, etc. They also go after the big freedoms too, from guns to speech.
Neo-feudalists, they believe that the people serve the State, and the State serves the leaders. People are not the sovereign ... they are the problem.
Moving from Nanny to Obergruppenführer, almost out of central casting - we have this;
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.No, no, and in Ben Franklin's name - NO!
“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”Verily.