America was a free nation. The notion that government is at its' most dangerous and intrusive when attempting good deeds was commonly understood across the land, and elected officials were looked at with the deep skepticism their largely parasitical existence wholly justifies.
At some point, folks stopped seeing "we're from the government and we're here to help" as a particularly dark joke, and began to participate in the group delusion that Big Gov't was the solution to all the nations ills.
We went from a nation of individualists to a nation of whiners and victims, from a land of industry and prosperity to a primarily service economy. NIMBY looms large, and industry is a villain - not a generator of jobs and supporter of families.
I'm not saying some good things haven't happened. Civil rights, the curbing of the Hoover-esque FBI and some of the less savory practices of big city police departments, more open government, and in many (not all, by any means) a reduction in governmental corruption per square inch (stupidity, sadly, seems a constant).
But...are all the losses really necessary?