That topic is explored by John Hayward in this post over at Human Events online: The bitter wastes of politicized America. (Hat tip to Instapundit). Read the whole thing, but I found this material to be a great description of the underlying dynamic released into society by government bloat and overreach:
The expansion of government replaces competition with coercion. Free people lack coercive power, so they must compete with each other for business opportunities. Customers must be persuaded. Employees must be attracted. It’s messy sometimes, and the process must be policed for theft and fraud, but it’s generally constructive.
Government power replaces all that with a simple, brutal, zero-sum equation: what you are given must be taken from someone else. The regulatory process is corrupted by both ideology and special interests. Even when it avoids outright corruption, the process is expensive, because it’s not constructive the way private competition is. Wealth and value are lost through forced redistribution. It’s a smaller, poorer world, in which political influence becomes valuable currency. Your fellow citizens are not your competitors – they are your enemies. They become selfish plutocrats or lazy parasites. Their defeat becomes an occasion for riotous celebration.
And effective political power requires solidarity – sizable groups of voters acting in concert, to press their common interests upon the State, whose officials in turn benefit from packaged electoral support. The best way to hold a large group of people together is to make them feel as if everyone else is out to get them. The most effective political adhesives are distilled from hatred and distrust. People who disagree with your agenda are “attacking” you or “robbing” you. How commonly do you hear dissent described in precisely those terms nowadays?As George Washington noted "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." And as Hayward points out, a fire that burns darkly when it grows too large.