Over 90% of Americans think income distribution in this country is dangerously screwed up.
Over 90% of Americans think the mass-killing industry should wear a tighter leash.
In fact, we have what amounts to damn near a national consensus on lots of issues.
Charlie P. Pierce asks "so what"?
... Watching the administration's momentum fade on [gun control] is to see a president presented with the final, practical refutation of the speech that made him famous. It turns out there is a red America and a blue America. It turns out that there is a conservative America and a liberal America. It turns out that the things that divide us are stronger than the things that unite us. Or, at least, that the things that divide us are more politically salient than the things that unite us. The failure on guns is the last, final refutation of what Barack Obama said he believed about the people of this county. It always depended on the notion that we were all together in the creative process of self-government. The fact is, most of us aren't. Most of us have checked out. At the encouragement of two generations of ambitious politicians, we have accepted the notion that "government" is something alien, and therefore that it is something we cannot influence. You tell me that 91 percent of Americans support background checks. Wonderful. Put them on the ballot. They'll pass, but only 40 percent of the eligible voters will bother to go to the polls, so where's the danger to anyone in acting contrary to the expressed public will? Who does Mitch McConnell really fear in this particular controversy? He knows that there is a solid, active core of support behind the work he's doing frustrating the expressed public will.This is the fool's gold that this president has been chasing ever since he broke onto the scene. He staked his entire career — and certainly, his entire presidency — on the notion that the right person at the right time could heal the "divisions" in our society — which, he told us, were not the real products of our politics, but the temporary fever dreams of a country led astray. The fact is that those "divisions" are our politics. They're all we have, since we have determined as a political entity, that politics and government are a show, that nothing is permanent, that the scoreboard starts at zero every day...
In the 1970s, the Right finally gave up its futile effort to get Americans to vote to eliminate the social safety net and embarked on the much more ambitious and successful project of convincing us that our representative government was, in fact, an sinister, occupying army of bureaucrats who (in the service of sinister elites) existed solely to thwart the dreams of freedom-luvin' patriots by a variety of sinister means including but not limited to confiscating their hard-earned money and giving it to lazy brown people, building a regulatory prison around every noble job-creatin' capitalist, forcing good god-fearin' Christians to pay for drive-by abortion clinics on every street-corner and to subsidize the slutty-slut-slut sexytime of millions of hippie chicks who refuse to let them even cop so much as a little feel without suing them for sexual harassment or hatecriming or racism or some other such made-up Liberal complaint.
To no one's surprise, this nihilistic vision that the federal government was out to get us was a very easy sell to lots of people, especially those Americans who still deeply loathe the federal government for having "gotten" their great-granddaddies during the War of Northern Aggression and for forcing their granddaddies and daddies to accept such progressively unnatural horrors as women voting, school integration, interracial marriage and jazz services on Sunday ever since.
The lesson? it is ever so much easier to get assholes to go along with cutting America's economic throat if you first encourage them put on funny hats and dress their bigotry and contempt for their fellow citizens as up as patriotism.