It's been on a downhill slide since the lie that got us into Vietnam as well as the insertion of religion into a secular government - combined with insanely unfair tax laws and corporations that outsource labor to foreign countries at the sacrifice of American employment, the assault on the educational systems, assaults on personal liberties - especially regarding women, assaults on the intentions of our founding fathers for a true democracy - not a quasi oligarchical plutocracy with 1% of the population in control of 99% of the wealth of the nation.
Well you should read this piece by Charley Reece, a now-retired editor and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel (column was syndicated through King). It was originally penned in 1984 & updated in 1995. Check out this snopes site copy which has the most accurate reproduction of his thoughts which are 100% valid today. http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/reese.asp
Cere is right. I think it might of had it's roots a little earlier than vietnam. Our founding fathers never intended on career politicians. That, I feel, is one of the main causes of our problems. And you left out when our government gave up the right to coin it's own monies to the federal reserve, a private bank, they made a huge mistake that changed the direction of our country's economy for the worst.