Everything you said is true in that you experienced it first hand, but the general methods of campainging and election do not change... and a few college classes in polictal science will give you plenty of knowledge to understand the implications of everything you just mentioned.
It IS historic. 1972... read it... almost 40 years. What do you define as historic?
As to the Patriot Act and other general claims, how can you even quantify if it worked or not? The concept is not invalidated just because you throw a few instances out where it failed. Nothing is perfect.
As to your statement of fox news. I could very easily flip it the other way and say you probably get most of your info from CNN. Truth is I read both liberal and conservative opinions and then I do fact checks. I NEVER believe ANYTHING at face value until I have given it thought.