Fighting off the counterrevolution

By Bill Schneider
November 9, 2012

The conventional wisdom has arrived: 2012 was a status quo election.  President Barack Obama was reelected.  Democrats continue to have a majority in the Senate.  Republicans still control the House.  Only two states changed their presidential votes from 2008 to 2012 (North Carolina and Indiana).  Six billion dollars were spent and almost nothing changed!

The conventional wisdom is wrong.  Things have indeed changed.  Voters came out to defend the revolution of 2008.  They rejected a return to the old order.

The status quo candidate in this election was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Romney represented the old order that’s been in power since 1980: the Reagan regime with its power base of older white men.  Bill Clinton, the only Democrat to win the White House during that regime, tried to make accommodations with it.  They impeached him.

All that changed with the revolution of 2008.  The New America, led by  Obama, came to power.  It was a movement of young people, working women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, union members, liberals, gays and other groups that had long been denied power.

A revolution always faces a counterrevolution.  When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, they immediately faced a counterrevolution led by the White Army, which was fighting to defend the Czarist regime.  When the Obama movement came to power in 2009, a counterrevolution sprang up immediately: the Tea Party.  The Tea Party enjoyed a big victory in 2010 when it gained power in Congress and nearly killed health care reform.

Tuesday, the New America defeated the forces of reaction.  There were some doubts about whether the 2008 majority would show up again.  Many Democrats were disappointed in Obama and frustrated by his inability to deliver the hope and change he promised.  But they did show up.

What drove them to the polls this time was not hope but fear — fear that the Tea Party Republicans would take over the country.  Obama continued to draw strong support from women, gays, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, liberals and union members.  In some cases (Latinos, Asian-Americans, gays), Obama did better than he did in 2008.  His big loss was among white men (from 41 percent in 2008 to 35 percent this year).  They’re the old regime.

The White Army was routed.  It retreated to Siberia — in this case, the House of Representatives, where Republicans retained their majority.  Why did Republicans hold on to the House?  Because the House is fortified against change.  House incumbents are difficult to defeat.  Their challengers are mostly unknown.  Moreover, most state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, and they used their power over redistricting to protect Republican incumbents.

It’s hard to call this a status quo election when so many Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo.  In the network exit poll, more than 75 percent of voters described the nation’s economy as bad.  A majority said the country is seriously off on the wrong track.  Only a quarter said they were better off than they were four years ago.

How did Obama escape blame?  Votes blamed President George W. Bush — the old regime — more than Obama for the nation’s economic problems (53 to 38 percent).  The revolution is not finished.  It must go on.

Will we see change?  Sure.  We’re getting more and more evidence every day.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has signaled a willingness to make a deal on taxes (“We’re ready to be led”).  High-income taxpayers will very likely see their taxes go up.  The new health care law has been protected from repeal.  Former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour is now calling on Republicans to support immigration reform.  If they don’t, the whole country could go the way of California, where Latino voting power has reduced Republicans to a powerless minority.

The country will not go over the fiscal cliff. Obama has vowed not to let that happen, and Republicans in Congress know it would throw the country back into recession.  Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again.  They do.

Before this year, same-sex marriage had been rejected by voters 32 times.  This year, it was approved by voters in all four states where it was on the ballot.  It should now be possible for Obama to break the logjam and peel off some Republican support for tax reform, energy legislation and debt reduction.

Karl Rove was the Admiral Alexander Kolchak of the effort to hold back change, the supreme commander of the counterrevolutionary forces.  His American Crossroads Super PAC spent more than $100 million on attack ads.  According to the Sunlight Foundation, only 1 percent of the candidates supported by his committee won.  That is one of the lowest returns on investment of any independent spending group.

The Bolsheviks shot Kolchak.  Rove was lucky.  He just got humiliated on national TV.

Why did Democrats win?  It certainly wasn’t the economy.  It was the demography, stupid.  Mainstream America is changing.  Message to Republicans: Deal with it.

PHOTO: Admiral Alexander Kolchak


PHOTO (top): President Barack Obama applauds as he addresses supporters during his election night victory rally in Chicago. REUTERS/Adrees Latif


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Revolution is not an apt descriptor of Obama’s election. He is center-right overall and all his supposedly extremely liberal and socialist policies are far less liberal and socialist than what we’ve seen from the likes of LBJ or FDR. He just seem so far left because the Republican party has moved much farther right since the days of FDR and LBJ. Can anybody seriously see Republicans voting to create Medicare in this day and age?

Posted by Joish | Report as abusive

Is a man any less a slave because he is allowed to elect his master every few years? There had to be a revolution to have a counterrevolution. There has been no revolution, just a lateral pass of the authoritarian football every 8 years to make you feel as though your vote meant something. The battle is not between right or left, conservative or liberal. It is between top and bottom, liberty and authority.

At least the 19th century revolutionary socialists had principles that they could define and argue intelligently. They held no if’s, and’s or but’s in their beliefs. They carried ideas to their logical conclusion and most important of all, they weren’t afraid to call things, including themselves, what they are, be it communist, socialist, protectionist or even anarchist.

What those ballots need is a box to check “Void Office” and be done with it.

Posted by LysanderTucker | Report as abusive


You can work hard, but if there are too many people with that skill, you will still get paid little. I have said it a lot, it’s work smarter, not harder.

From my experience, the salary of middle management is not decided only by the level of effort, skill you need to put in. Management also requires the “social skills”, the ability to give your subordinates a big smile, all those colorful words, the encouragement and laughter at the same time trying to work out a way to pay him as little as possible behind his back. Not a lot of people can do that “gutsiness” that you said well. Many don’t even want to do that kind of job.

Same thing with salesman, very well paid too. How much skills and education do you really need for it? But then do you have that “social skill” that tender tongue, that “gutsiness” to frequently make people sign into that (bad) deal?

Anyway, I need to stop criticizing people now, making too many enemies already.

Still, in the long run, any society that rewards, values and selects wrong people will collapse or stagnate or go in cycle because the wrong kind of people will prosper and multiply in that society. The wrong kind of people are not capable of moving that society forward, or even keeping it standing firmly.

There is no “Invisible Hand” that drives progress. Somebody, somewhere somehow has to put in the effort. At the beginning, the effort is just the simple thing that can be done a sheep with the hands, the muscle, hard work.

But then when the low hanging fruits are gone, even the hard work is automated by machine. Those bad jobs at McDonalds will not even be there for people to complain.

Then you need an extreme talent to reach to the higher tougher fruit. And the extreme talent will be smart enough to see through all the lies and injustice. The extreme talent will rather do the minimal, than to put in his best and be looked upon as an exploited fool.

If you think the extreme talent doesn’t know that he gets paid $8 an hour and you get 200k a year, you are sadly mistaken.

So in the end, nobody puts in the effort. No progress. Wait a minute, there is indeed no progress, no real economic growth, we are indeed stagnating.. :P

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive


Well said, as usual.

Posted by AdamSmith | Report as abusive

Bill Schneider trivializes a human tragedy with this comparison. 10 million people died in the ensuing civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution. Half of those deaths were caused by starvation because the government could not efficiently distribute food. The other half came from murdering those that dared to defend their food supply, go on strike or otherwise resist.

I do not believe President Obama would want to be compared to Vladimir Lenin. However, if his supporters believe that this tragic moment in human history is an apt comparison then this is no longer a policy debate but one truly of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Posted by effersonian | Report as abusive

After a hard time sleeping at night.

I realize @AlkalineState has really put the nail in the coffin. You remind me of a lot of people that I met. I am really giving up on this ‘keyboard’ fight now.
As you said “But it doesn’t work that way and never will.”

It’s not just sad that bad things exist, the sadder part is that most people have no intention of fixing or containing it.

There will always be unfortunate people that are not needed, and there will also be fortunate people that are not needed either. The former grows in number, the latter grows in wealth and power. Both become the bigger and bigger baggage that the rest has to pull forward.

It’s sad, it’s annoying, it’s illogical. It gives me unease feeling and headache when my brain has to face and store illogical, inconsistent facts.

The ultimate comfort to my brain now is that, I can sit back and watch the imminent collapse.

False, inconsistent and illogical thing needs more false, inconsistent and illogical things to support it. You keep adding them up until the whole system gets to critical mass.

Enjoy the upcoming fireworks everyone…

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive

Congratulation Bill Scneider for this excellent article that shows that for the first time the minorities themselves begin to understand and be convinced that they have the power to model their country the USA through Democracy

Posted by EricLafayette | Report as abusive

The notion that the election of a candidate through the same political system that he started with is a “revolution”. It is quite obviously not by any meaningful sense of the term in political science. You have done some right wing mutters a service though by “confirming” their fears. Bravo! Well I guess you had to write something controversial in order to get published, no matter how utterly hyperbolic. I find it hard to understand why an accredited and credible University like George Mason would employ you.

Posted by fordisbunk | Report as abusive

Come on people. Kerry lost by a larger amount in 2004 and nobody was talking about a post mortem for the Democratic party and the Republicans took both houses then.

Elections have about a a .5% error rate in counting. Obama won by 1.4% This is nothing to write home about.

Abortion, healthcare, economy, education, immigration, religious rights, regulation, and the environment were all major issues.

Both sides lied about their opponent’s real positions and everyone knew it.

There were election irregularities.

Given all of those issues, coming to a conclusion about WHAT AMERICAN MEANT is impossible unless you ignore the laws of statistics. You people are blowing smoke.

Posted by Yaakovweeeeeee | Report as abusive

Well it really worked out well for the Bolsheviks, didn’t it? After massacring millions and building an environmentally toxic heavy industry that fueled a grotesquely overextended military, they built an fearsome superpower that collapsed with a whimper. And their grandchildren and great-children became ruthless ultra-capitalist oligarchs that show utter contempt for the type of views expressed here by Schneider. What a bizarre article.

Posted by bluepanther | Report as abusive