It has been noted that this slow suffocation has been occurring as the country is becoming "less white" and "less Christian."
That kind of pronouncement makes me laugh, based as it is on the Toby-Keith-ish-full-of-fear idea that the country is supposed to be a certain (magically predetermined) percentage white and Christian, in order to maintain its status as America. As if a non-majority white/Christian America is a blighted wasteland, a country with no history, too horrifying a fate to imagine.
Not to unduly disdain my own tribe but...I think American history has shown that when freaked-out, gun-toting Christian whiteys run the show, it can have pretty frightening consequences. Take Texas Governor Rick Perry. He was just ranting a few weeks ago about his state's sovereign right to secede (because the prevailing values of the nation are not shared by him and his party, and therefore should not be permitted to infect Texas), talk that sounded a lot like that of George Wallace, or even Jefferson Davis. At least now we citizens get to see it all, via the pointedly non-nostalgic interwebs, and can make up our own individual minds about the weight (or weightlessness) of Governor Perry's convictions.
And, at the very same time that Maine and New Hampshire are using the powers of their sovereign state legislatures to enact laws that allow and protect gay marriage, Louisiana and Arkansas are supporting an anti-gay families bulwark, based on the Sarah-Palin-reads-the-bible-endorsed idea that the sole purpose of marriage is to create more people. Even though someone in her family just made another person...outside of marriage.
Its an interesting moment, and it is fascinating to watch the mold grow, and to see in real time how a lack of imagination about an unmapped future reveals itself as serious mental constraint.