Civil liberties are non-negotiable. The selling point of the United States is a level of personal freedom unparalleled in the world which is directly due to minimal government interference in the life of its citizens.
Of course, that is all marketing BS. There may be a higher degree of freedom for matters of personal choice such as abortion and gay marriage (and those have not been fully realized and/or are under constant assault by religious fanatics – Many European nations are freer in this regard) but just try speaking out against the actions of our government. If you are not part of the two party pseudo debate, the corporate owned news media will marginalize you and the government itself might penalize you as we’ve seen with whistleblowers and, in America’s not so distant past, those who spoke up about civil rights and workers rights.
And the problem IS the two party system. When it comes down to it on the issues that matter to me (foreign policy, civil liberties, campaign reform, drug legalization), the Democrats and Republicans are basically the same. There is more lip service to issues I care about in the Democratic Party but that is from the ignored progressive wing and doesn’t actually translate into action such as legislation.
No greater illustration of this than hearing people who style themselves as progressives and liberals mouthing the Dick Cheney 1% doctrine bullshit in a misguided attempt to bolster the Cult of Obama. President Obama, honestly speaking, is in the process of establishing one of the worst civil liberties records of any president in US history.
Edward Snowden is a hero IMO. It is true that what he has exposed could be twisted through the mire of judicial nuance to be considered legal but it is constitutionally and morally wrong. America went insane for a few years after 09/11 and we are seeing the damage now.
Effectively, all privacy in America has been eliminated as one of America’s greatest senators Russ Feingold warned at the time of the passing of the Patriot Act - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/russ-feingold-patriot-act-speech_n_3402878.html
While FISA (The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ) is problematic, it had safeguards which were decimated by The Patriot Act. I would argue against legislation like FISA but the root of the problem is the Patriot Act itself. It is a Pandora’s Box (as many of us knew at the time) and when you open it, you get on the slippery slope to dictatorship. America is a dying empire and one of the phases of the death process is domestic totalitarianism as all the chickens come home to roost – Not able to invade and terrorize other countries for their natural resources so you end up terrorizing your own country as you sink into economic depression and political disorder. Oswald Spengler identified this as part of the “winter” phase of the decline and death of a civilization in THE DECLINE OF THE WEST – a book with a lot of pertinence to where we are today in America.