1. The ultra-rich have defeated trade unionism.
The unions once challenged the ultra-rich at the ballot box and won concessions that led to a higher standard of living for all. The ultra-rich countered by passing laws like the Taft-Hartley Act, that nullified New Deal legislation favoring unions and made it possible for companies to kill unions outright. The ultra-rich blamed big unions for the loss of jobs in heavy industry, like steel production, automobiles, and the garment industries. Common people believed the propaganda against unions and stopped supporting them.
2. The ultra-rich have harnessed the government like a mule.
While they decry big government, the ultra-rich are the ones who profit most from it. The war-mongers in congress pay $500 billion or more annually to the ultra-rich to provide guns and bullets and other materials of war--when there is no war going on! The super-rich also get subsidies for various industries like farming and oil extraction.
Passing democratic social programs will mean unemployment benefits that don't get cut off, living wages determined by unions, medical care for all, day care for working parents, controls on Wall Street and hi-tech entrepreneurs, rent support, and other improvements in the lives of ordinary citizens.
No doubt conservatives will oppose these reforms the same way they oppose gay marriage, by saying that these democratic measures will harm business in some utterly vague way, without giving any details about how that harm will happen or how it will happen. Trouble is, conservatives will have a tough time selling these fears because their policies over the last 20 years have resulted in stagnant wages, permanent unemployment, urban disintegration, and jobs being created everywhere in the world but here.
3. The ultra-rich have set up a system of propaganda that includes a TV Station (Fox News(, a once-proud newspaper (Wall Street Journal), a bunch of loudmouth radio hosts, a sizable number of front groups masquerading as think tanks, and the finest Congress money can buy.
4. The ultra-rich have used defects in the US Constitution to control the government without actually winning elections. They have an unelected Supreme Court doing their bidding, dozens of gerrymandered house districts, and a bunch of Senators representing the trees in small states.
When liberals try to change the way things are today, the ultra-rich raise cries of socialism, which sounds ominous but which has lost all meaning. Socialism is actually the result of democracy, where the majority gets to govern.