The United States of America has traditionally been the freest county in the history of man. It was founded on the principle of individual rights--specifically, that the function of government is to protect individual rights--fundamentally the right to one's own life, liberty, property and his pursuit of happiness. From these fundamental ideas, a Constitution was created in which the individual was left free to work hard, to produce, to achieve, to keep the fruits of his labor, and to prosper. The principle, not explicitly articulated in the Constitution itself, but articulated quite clearly by those who wrote it, was that in order to affect these ends, the power of government had to be restrained. They protection of individual rights was their fundamental goal, and the restraint upon government power (via the Constitution) was their method of achieving it. (Had they been fully consistent, they would have established a firm wall of separation between state and economics. Unfortunately, they did not foresee everything.)
The twentieth century saw a gradual erosion of these principles. The United States of the twentieth century was not a capitalist country, nor a socialist country, bur rather a mixture of the two elements: the mixed economy of an ever growing welfare state. Today, we have dispensed with the gradual erosion of our original principles; instead, we are racing toward their antithesis: government controlled, run, and owned everything.
To many people unfortunately, this phenomenon has not become clear yet. We are, however, on the brink. As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, if current trends are not reversed, we are headed for statism (a system of government in which the individual is subordinate to the state). Evade the fact however you like by disguising it as "Democratic Socialism" or by refusing to name it at all, but evading it does not make it no so.
Over the course of two hundred years, the United States has gone from a republic, to a democracy, to a welfare state.
We are at a point at which Americans will have to decide what type of country we are to be: a country of individuals whose rights are protected by government--or one in which the individual is ruled by government. The choice is ours. But time is running out.