When the government fears the people, you have liberty; when the people fear the government, you have tyranny.
It's just about as self-evident as you could want that many people in the United States fear the government -- some seem to fear the idea of government itself. By the rule stated above, these people's fears are self-confirming: if they fear the government, it must be a tyranny.
Someone could argue that I misunderstand, perhaps purposefully, the usage of "fear" in the old proverb. It seems to mean something like "cowed into quiescence out of respect for some dread power to punish transgression." Liberty flourishes, the proverb suggests, when politicians know that the people will deal with them if they transgress. Conversely, if the people believe that the government can and will crush them if they transgress -- in this context, the right verb would be "dissent" -- tyranny is secure. The open defiance from reactionary dissent in 2013 appears to prove that "the people" are not yet cowed, and that tyranny is not yet secure. My reading of the proverb, however, seems more psychologically convincing. A deeply rooted philosophical (or pseudophilosophical) suspicion that government is always in danger of tending toward tyranny encourages immediate suspicion that the current government actually is tending toward tyranny. Those who fear government will always see tyranny looming.
Is the remedy to reject all suspicion of tyranny? Classical political philosophy warns against that. If you find the cyclical theory of political history convincing, tyranny of some sort will seem inevitable wherever constitutional liberty prevails today. The heart of the matter, yet again, is what actually counts as tyranny. It has to be something more than "the state has too much control." Who has control of the state matters more. Those who see "government" itself as the inherent threat miss the point. They also seem to limit their own choices; the proverb allows no option but rule by fear. Can't we do better than that?