But even though I consider myself one of the smart, empathetic folk on the opposite side of the spectrum, there's still an unspoken, "Are we sure democracy even works?" under half of the conversations I have about politics. It usually sounds like:
"We should do [obvious thing that will make the country better]!"
"Too bad most people aren't in favor of [that thing]."
"Well, our leaders just need to grow a spine and do it anyway!"
And then we just quietly ignore the elephant in the room, which is that we're never more than two years from a national election in America. That's when all of those people you just pissed off will vote in candidates promising to repeal [that thing] before it even takes effect.
For example, after every mass shooting, my feed is full of celebrities saying "Get rid of the guns" and columns about how it's time to repeal the 2nd Amendment, pointing out that half-measures like background checks and mental health interventions won't stop similar attacks. The problem is that, even without looking at polls, you have to know that Americans really, really like guns. If you do look at the polls, you'll find that only one in five Americans want to repeal the 2nd Amendment and only one in nine feel strongly about it. Yet, when we see a video of sprawled corpses in a shopping center, millions of well-meaning people think, "It'd be nice if we could just, you know, do it anyway."
This is coming to a head sooner than you think. What happens when those exact same voters stand in the way of fixing global warming, aka, the thing that could collapse civilization? In order to curb emissions in time, we apparently have to ban new gasoline cars within 15 years or so, and beef consumption has to drop dramatically even sooner than that. But Americans love their gasoline cars even more than guns (more than 97% of new car buyers still choose gas over electric, with huge gas-guzzling trucks being the fastest-growing market), and they love their hamburgers and steaks even more (Americans average more than a pound of beef a week, only 5% of us are vegetarians).