I'm 51 years old.
When I was a kid, there was an expression I heard all the time. "It's a free country." Usually uttered whenever somebody said "You can't do that." "Yes I can - it's a free country."
I literally cannot remember the last time I heard somebody say this.
And don't try to tell me that it's Obama's fault, or Bush's, or 9/11 and the Patriot Act. The loss of this expression far predates any of those. I don't even recall hearing it during the Clinton Administration.
Probably the most recent expression of this idea I can recall from popular culture is in the 1985 film "The Sure Thing," when John Cusack** is going through a door to the roof of the library, and Daphne Zuniga says "You can't go up there," and John Cusack replies "Yes I can. This is America. I can go anywhere."
So my questions are:
1: What happened?
2: What can we do about it? I fear the answer is "not a thing."
**Yes, I know. Don't get distracted.