I can't remember the exact train of thought--maybe Rachael Anne can supplement the record--but we were talking about various countries and I said something to the effect that it's surprising how limited our government is in the US when our citizens (relative to every other populace in the world, I dare say) are very naive about their own rulers. I.e. (and I think I got this notion from a Rothbard story about him hanging out with Polish dissidents) I think Americans trust their government far more than, say, a French or Swedish person trusts his. And yet, paradoxically, those governments have far more power.
Rachael suggested that this might be due to the simple fact that the US government is relatively young. Now it depends how you want to measure it, of course: E.g. the French Revolution happened after the American. But certainly France is older than the United States of America. So even though the French (we assume, and maybe this is wrong) are more cynical about their politicians, nonetheless they've had government around for so much longer (in their cultural history) that c'est la vie when it comes to various programs and powers.