Right now the ramifications of having a big-brother government are relatively mild.
I feel calm and safe as I write this and the "Hail G. W. Bush" post from earlier. I have nothing to hide from the government, and I hardly believe they would even be the least bit concerned with these posts.
But I fear the day, reminiscent of the Macarthy era, when all somebody has to do is yell, "Hey, he's blaspheming the government!" (just like in the Macarthy days when they screamed, "Communist! Communist! He's a Commie!") as I'm whisked away and swiftly "dealt with" (whatever that could be). Those days could be far off or never to come, but if it does get to the point where our right to free speech is slowly getting pinched off, and technology progresses as it is, there could come a day where you couldn't even hate "Bush" (figurative head of state) under your breath. You couldn't run or hide (cameras and wire taps), you could be detained indefinitely without cause (new powers extended to the Department of Justice), and the public would foolishly condone this (in the name of safety!).
Now again, this is very extreme, but a milder version is already taking place (although it happens only to aliens and not citizens). I referred to the book Animal Farm earlier because, if you hadn't read it, it makes a great allegory to government slowly finessing the people into giving up each and every right in the name of peace. Then the ones in power raise ferocious dogs (allegorical reference to "secret police"), which from that point on makes it unnecessary for them to pretend to be the public's friend, because nobody could any longer do anything about it anyway. Even if our rights aren't taken out from under us, the government could certainly watch its political opponents (which could be liberalists) very closely, and try to "road block" any attempt at getting back what has already been lost. If the powers extended to the DOJ were once again scaled back and we were attacked again someday (which I believe is inevitable regardless of government's power; where there is a will there's a way, and the terrorists certainly have the will), I fear a blow of unreperable damage will be dealt to our constitution. It's deffinitely a balancing act: we want to be safe without becoming a police state. Are the two options mutualy opposed?