Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), a defender of liberty if there ever was one, tried to caution his colleagues:
“Those who believe a police state can’t happen here are poor students of history. Every government, democratic or not, is capable of tyranny. We must understand this if we hope to remain a free people.”Obviously, they did not listen.
Back in the thirties, Sinclair Lewis wrote a cautionary tale of fascism conquering America, titled It Can't Happen Here. He envisioned a genuine demagogue rising up from the heartland to win the Democratic nomination and plunge the country into a totalitarian nightmare.
He could not have known that FDR, always the White Hat in alternative 1930s histories, would go on to create what amounted to the American variety of fascism, and bequeath to the country a legacy of growing and ever-more-powerful government (see here).
So in a way, "it" has happened here, long before Bush the Lesser or the PATRIOT Act.