"These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized."
--Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Shawshank Redemption)
A fine little video framing the American form of government in the spectrum of possibilities. A few notes:
-->Contemporary framing of the left side of the political spectrum towards socialism and the right towards fascism is inaccurate as both ends represent government controlled by a small group of rulers. (Personal note, this is precisely my conclusion as when you really think it through the political endgame pursued by 'liberals' and 'conservatives' is not readily distinguishable.)
-->A more reasonable political spectrum looks like this: 100% government <------------> 0% government.
-->There are five categorical choices across the political spectrum: monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, republic, anarchy.
-->In reality, monarchy, or rule by single individual, doesn't exist. Even highly visible ruling personalities are supported by their small group of administrators. In practice, all monarchies are really oligarchies.
-->Oligarchy is rule and control by a small group. The elite set policy and govern as they see fit. Most governments in the history of the world have been oligarchies.
-->Anarchy means no government. Freedom is not supported by anarchy, since people are constrained by constantly trying to protect their property from theft. Anarchy is an unstable form of government, and has historically marked a transitional phase toward oligarchy.
-->Democracy is government by majority rule. Many believe democratic government was the founding principle of the United States. It was not. Did you know that the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration or Constitution? Many Constitutional framers were concerned about the consequences of an unrestrained majority that results from democracy. A democratic majority (a.k.a. 'mob rule' or 'tyranny of the majority') can vote to end lives, or to seize property from individuals as they see fit. Historically, democracies have proven an unstable form of government that typically morphs into oligarchy.
-->Republic represents rule of law. The scope of law is limited to establishing and enforcing protection of person and property. Republic was the form of government intended by many (but I personally would argue not all, based on study of history) of the Constitutional framers. Republican government is the position on the political spectrum most consistent with the principle of liberty. Government's role in a republic is to enforce law that protects person and property, which facilitates freedom.
-->Finally, government growth reduces freedom. Government power increases with size. These conditions are supportive of oligarchy.
It seems clear that that America is losing its grip on republican form of government, and that we're sliding toward oligarchy.