"or all the sound and fury, there's a remarkable amount of consensus over big policies in America. The welfare state that Democrats have built over the past 80 years — Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, subsidized public education, welfare, and the minimum wage — is pretty much here to stay, with neither side able to change it except on the margins. Ditto for the regulatory state: OSHA, workers comp, environmental regulations, consumer-protection laws, and, most recently, Dodd-Frank. Social attitudes continue to loosen up slowly in some areas (gay rights, religiosityM) and remain stable in others (guns, abortion.) Most of the heavy lifting on civil rights — the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, gender discrimination laws, the Violence Against Women Act, and ADA — was finished years ago, with little left on the national agenda aside from things like the precise boundaries of affirmative action. Conservatives have won some battles too. We've reached a rough consensus on taxes, arguing now only about whether the marginal rate on top earners should change by four percentage points, and as Benjamin Wittes argues persuasively today, for better or worse we've reached a rough consensus on national security issues too. Extinguishing the private sector labor movement was a big deal for Republicans over the past few decades, but that job is mostly finished."