Since most people probably won't sit through an hour-long lecture, I figured I'd quote Chris Hedges here. Or, rather, it's Hedges quoting someone else, making a point about fascism in America. You can decide for yourself if you think the US is actually fascist, in any sense of the word, but Hedges certainly thinks that it's headed that way, if it isn't already there, but in a way that's different from classical dictatorships.
[T]he political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system . . . “inverted totalitarianism.”
Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin writes in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.
Now, I agree with a lot of what Hedges says, even if his analysis seems at times too bleak and pessimistic. That said, I don't quote this to prove that the US is a dictatorship, but rather to make the point that it may be ( or become ) a totalitarian state while nominally remaining a free democracy. If you're free to choose, but your choice is between two brands that are only superficially different, are the people really in control anymore? It doesn't seem that way to me, and you may decide for yourself if you think the situation in America is that bad or not. I would suggest that it is, or it's getting there, especially in light of the kinds of issues that are debated. When Obama's birth certificate is an issue that people actually care about, you sort of get the impression that American politics is decided by petty, divisive issues, rather than by things of actual consequence.
The Youtuber by the name of TheAmazingAtheist, I think it was, said in a video before the 2008 election something to that effect, that for most people it's about these superficial ideas, and that when Noam Chomsky comes on to talk about politics, people change channels.