I agree with AG, it's all a shadow game.
Nothing has changed, there is a small elite that is running things, and most of the time they are going to be running things. The only time they aren't running things is during small windows like the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and other bloody violent uprisings where there is a changing of the guard and a new set of leaders is installed.
Here in the US, everything is bought and owned by the corporate, special interests, and the deep pockets of the ultra-wealthy. There is a dog and pony show of elections, and peddling pills to the masses, cooking the books all the way around, and it's time for me to put on my tinfoil hat.
China knows how to oppress large populations, they've been doing it consistently and effectively for thousands of years. Disarm, demobilize, and distract.
Disarmament - the progressive democrat party pushes a hard Gun Control policy that should really be called Civilian Disarmament. The hue and cry is to ban assault rifles and automatic weapons, despite the fact that the vast majority of gun crimes and accidents are small capacity revolvers and pistols. People with machine guns aren't shooting each other. People with cheap handguns are. But handguns and shotguns are not very useful in fighting an insurgency or secession. On top of impressive support and campaign for this disarmament, we are seeing the 1033 program which is seeing federal funds being used to finance local law enforcement agencies purchasing surplus military hardware. The police are getting body armor, machine guns, drones, and armored vehicles designed not for military combat, but suppressing and occupying hostile populaces. The Bearcat MRAP is a riot control vehicle, not a stand and fight military vehicle. Martial law and military occupation in the US in the past has been a joke, because as Yamamoto said, invading the US would be a disaster because there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. A disarmed populace is at the mercy of it's government.
Demobilization - A basic tenet of American life is mobility, if you don't like where you live, you pack up your things and your family, and you move somewhere better. There is a boom going on somewhere, be it California, or the Dakotas, or Alaska, or the Midwest. The biggest symbol of American mobility is the automobile, and we are seeing that industry being mutated by government fiat. CAFE standards are moving towards fuel efficiency (A laudable goal) but the end effect is that to reach the numbers no being put up, everything is going to hybrid, and electric. Hybrids and electrics are fine if you live in a major city or urban area, but not much else. A prius cannot pull a trailer, it has little offroad capability. If the power goes out, it is suddenly limited in it's range. In a natural disaster like a flood, blizzard, etc, they are rolling traps with little ground clearance, no torque, and no power. If you have a truck you can go most places, you can carry things, people, you can tow a trailer, pull another vehicle, and do logistical things that hybrids and electrics cannot. You are effectively demobilized.
Extra tinfoil hat - newer cars have drive assist programs where the car can break, stay in it's lane, or park on it's own, and they are smart vehicles that are connected to the internet. Your Mercedes can contact the dealership to let them know when it needs it's oil changed (ref - Top Gear). If the government wants you to stay the f*** off the road, they could in theory access the computers of said vehicles and tell them to not start. How many people could rewire their car to bypass the electronic drive control systems?
Distraction - Distraction comes in two forms, dumbing down and circuses. The dumbing down has been in progress for decades through the public education system, with schools changing from places where you learn not just basics but what you might do with your life. The vocational trades are dropped (shop, autoshop, ag) because they are expensive. The arts (music, art, drama) are dropped because they don't immediately contribute to test scores, and we are moving to the point where the public education system is the mold stamping machine that turns students into college applicants, for further indoctrination. Smart enough to pull the levers and push the buttons, but dumb enough to not ask questions.
The second stage is circuses. What color is the dress? Who wore what to the fill in the blank awards? Who had a wardrobe malfunction, who released a sex tape, who accessed and leaked thousands of celebrity nudes? While the populace is arguing over the popular television show, nationalized scandal (Treyvon Martin anyone?) real issues are overlooked because they aren't cool, argument worthy, or people can't fap to it.