David, I am almost in complete agreement with your original post to which Natalie responded. (The thing that would make the NSA’s actions akin to a police state would require the NSA to be directed and controlled by the regime in power. What we have here is a security agency with a political agenda against the ruling regime.) But I think you’re a little off base here with this statement.
The danger that the current Republican president could become a despot is less a threat than that someone following him will become a despot. We in the “unhinged left” are very concerned about the erosion of the political institutions - and the actions of the NSA you describe do contribute to that erosion. The natural reaction will be for the regime to take counteractions and measures to bring the security agency under control (already started by having a political hack on it’s main committee.)
The devolution to an illiberal democracy is a real threat and people are rightly concerned. The U.S. has already been downgraded from a “Full Democracy” to a “Flawed Democracy” for the first time in the 9 year history of the Democracy Index. We’re on a bad trajectory.