The only way for the tyrants versus patriots model of a free society to work is if you have a bloody revolution every ten years to wrest power from the last crop of revolutionaries who have made their pile and blocked upward mobility. Too often and no one has a chance to make it. Not often enough and peace becomes a habit. Tyranny establishes its propaganda machine to make the status quo seem patriotic.
A country constantly swept by armed revolt can never be great, but greatness is itself an enemy of freedom through equality. If we had focused on our own freedom and happiness, we would never have become imperialists. We might have temporarily united in the face of actual invasion, but only long enough to clear the field for our own intramural contests.
Sitting as we do, upon a vast swath of arable land and tempting exploitable resources, we had no choice but to eschew a course of frequent cleansing in showers of blood. We had to become a robust nation paying lip service to pure liberty while dealing in all the intrigue and oppression that naturally go with the running of a mature country.