It's true, you know.
Around the turn of the last century, we in America were filled with a sense of purpose, that we were special people and destined to be an example of What Could Be, based on self-reliance and free enterprise. Two World Wars and a Cold War later, that sense of self-reliance lay in tatters.
Over the past 100 years we have see just how deep into the depths of depravity and evil human beings are capable of sinking, and that has shaken our confidence. As we lost faith in ourselves, we began to fall back on other things to act as supports (crutches).
During the Cold War, we relied on nationalism and the belief that we were Better (somehow) than the godless Commies; when the Soviet Union and its adherent states fell apart, many people were left without that crutch. What was the use in relying on the State, when the State was no longer needed to protect us?
To use a now-tired cliche, 9/11 changed everything.
Acting out of fear is never a good course of action; it clouds your better judgment, you see. So many people in this country have fled from the responsibility of being self-reliant, and have sought refuge in religion and in nationalism. However, it's not the religion you might think, and it's a twisted and perverse form of nationalism.
The religion now embraced by many who call themselves 'conservatives' is closer to one of the older "pagan" faiths - the belief that the god will destroy our enemies. And the term "enemies" now encompasses anyone - anyone who does not agree, anyone who does conform, anyone who does believe. The God of Love and Mercy no longer walks abroad in their mental landscape.
The perversion of nationalism can be discerned merely by turning on talk radio or certain news outlets on the TV. The State, embodied by the President, is sharing if not supplanting faith in a Deity as the guiding religion. It too, is far removed from our former libertarian democracy - adherents of this twisted faith deny dissent, brand those who disagree traitors, and actively, vocally (and in some cases vociferously) wish them actual physical harm, with little or no fear of reprisal from the forces of law and order.
It's no wonder that the present Government wants the "war on terror" to be a long one. It will perpetuate fear, and keep people off balance longer so that they too will stop thinking for themselves and take up the crutches.