Opinion

The Great Debate

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

Comments
30 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The GOP has failed to adapt. They are losing overall market share because they have chosen to remain the Texas Instruments of policy and governance. Meanwhile, Apple moves on without them.

Sent from my Obama iPhone.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive
 

Nice racist rant against anyone white. I do agree that the current regime is like the Bolsheviks though as they are inciting the same type of class warfare and rhetoric. Looks like this is soon going to be the Union of Soviet Socialist States of America (USSSA)

Posted by txguy2112 | Report as abusive
 

Excellent read! I am part of the New America movement and very proud of it. I totally agree with this article. I have said for many months that Romney is going to lose due to the GOP being out of touch with reality. If this country is NOT to go the way of ancient Rome; we MUST change our understanding of the definition of this society.

Posted by Dondi | Report as abusive
 

The analogy to the Bolshevik revolution is right on. The real people in this country, the doers, the builders, the fixers, the earners are now, as you correctly point out, outnumbered by socialists and the portions of society (all described by you in the third paragraphwho are willing to give up liberty for security and dependence from the state). You lay out a great case as to why, and end by essentially telling the best and most decent people in America to kiss off. Well, we do feel like we have been told this, and it is inspiring a lot of people who were formerly very proud to be Americans to realize that the best of what America was is gone and ain’t coming back and that we are sure as hell not going to support socialist state. Rest assured we will deal with it- the way proud, self reliant people have always dealt with their liberty and independence being threatened.

Posted by thenix | Report as abusive
 

Interesting narrative! The problem with narratives is that they often blind one to reality. Funny how things have changed little in over a century for the Bolsheviks.

Posted by 2bornot | Report as abusive
 

Right, except that much like the Bolsheviks, Obama is not a genuine revolutionist. He’s a reactionary disguised as a revolutionist. Obama is taking the country down the same authoritarian path that the Republicans want as well.

The Bolsheviks hijacked the February revolution. Likewise, Obama has co-opted, not led, the revolutionary movement in present day US.

Posted by JohnDrinkwater | Report as abusive
 

Most Americans can’t recognize the status quo as it bites them in the rear. Way to tow the line, chief.

Posted by Jameson4Lunch | Report as abusive
 

The “Bolshevik” analogy to the “New America” is unwittingly apt.

Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive
 

REVOLUTIONS most of the time lead to DEGENERATION.
Readers can read “Devolution by revolution : Selective genocide ensuing from the French and Russian revolutions” by Graham RK to be better convinced.

China suffers the most from this after generations and generations, revolutions after revolutions when the unfortunates underclass killed of the gifted, the best, the brightest. In war or in a corrupted, immoral, “jungle” society, the “dirtiest” survives, the righteous and most honorable always dies. The more fragmented places like Europe or Japan escaped this sad fate, since they are fragmented so the underclass in each fragment can be pitched against another.

I think the Muslim world (except the smart Iran) together with Africa, Latin America, India, the Philippines are facing the same sad fate. They blame Assad, Mubarak, etc.. but the reality is it doesn’t matter who the leader is, with their illogical reproductive behaviour, revolution is needed after revolutions. It doesn’t end like an infinite loop, and then you need to call in God to solve this problem.

Instead of having revolution, people should instead make the system more flexible so that there is more social mobility. People who contribute more and are more valuable, more unique move up and vice-versa for those who provide little value.

There needs to be better education instead of this kind of backward short-sighted thinking.

The Democrats can celebrate their advantage in the demographic shift, but most Americans should be worried about this. Only idiots would celebrate a shift in the society toward the growing segments that statistics (the trend) shows having higher crime rate, lower education and skill level, more dependency, lack of competitiveness, provide little value etc…

Don’t get my wrong, I’m not generalizing and stereotyping it to every INDIVIDUAL. I’m only talking about the statistics of the collective.

In the end, the very simple thing of being self-aware of one’s own purpose and worthiness eludes so many people. Or maybe people are too lazy to face the questions of life:
- Who you are?
- Why you are?
- What you want?
(Quoted from one of my favorite sci-fi show :P )

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

@thenix: There are still plenty of countries out there where the richest can exploit the population and environment with impunity. You can Go Galt in Somalia, perhaps.

Posted by anarcurt | Report as abusive
 

If Democratic party had its way, they would get Mexicans to come and vote for the President.
Lets not get carried away – similar calls were made pronouncing the death of democratic party in late 1980s and early 1990s. Clinton came roaring back and led the prty back to where it stands now. Republicans suffered in this election but they have a deep bench of leaders who are reformers, conservative (moderate) and patriots who would lead them out of the clutches of current extremist tea party wing.
The only good thing about this elction was that role of money is grossly exaggerated – elections are eventually won on grass roots level where volunteer army that identifies with the value system of the candidates get people out to vote.

Posted by VarunG | Report as abusive
 

In case some atheists get upset with my mention of God in the third paragraph of the previous comment.

Feel free to read it as
“… and then you need to call in God (or Chuck Norris) to solve this problem.”

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

Ok again, if some non-white atheists get upset with my mention of Chuck Norris, feel free to replace that with Morgan Freeman or Bruce Lee or Sofia Vergara, etc
depending on your background.

Anyway, you get the idea.
So hard to make everybody happy…

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

I think the term “counter revolution” is too dramatic. Obama won the election but no one can rightly call it a mandate. The Republican core is the super wealthy. They cobbled together other groups to form, they thought, a powerful base. For example, they lured the Catholics and Evangelicals with a feigned commitment to Pro Life. I believe they thought their soft commitment to Pro-Life would be enough to attract a solid portion of the Hispanic vote. If that assessment is true, they clearly wrong. Either way the core of the super wealthy is not even close to conceding the war. There will likely be an effort to broaden their base. There will certainly be an intensification of the lobbying. If the Republicans dupe Obama into accepting a compromise on the fiscal cliff, there will be a horrific battle next year. What most people don’t know, or have forgotten, about the Russian Revolution is the first first stage of the revolution was Feb 17, 1917. Women had gathered at the Ministry of Agriculture to get their daily hand-out of bread. There was bread and they were told to go home. They refused. The Cossacks were called in to drive them away. People poured into the streets, stormed the Duma, took over, and elected Andre Karinsky(sp?)their new leader. He was a democrat. The people in Russia were starving, but he did nothing through the summer. That allowed the Bolsheviks to take over in October. Obama is in a position similar to Karinsky. If he doesn’t find a way for the people to eat and survive, he will open the door for more dramatic, and more uncomfortable change.

Posted by DreShelby | Report as abusive
 

Trvorh writes: “Instead of having revolution, people should instead make the system more flexible so that there is more social mobility. People who contribute more and are more valuable, more unique move up and vice-versa for those who provide little value.”

That would be nice. But it doesn’t work that way and never will. The Jack Welch’s of the world and the inbred boards of Wall Street…. back-slapping with a Mexican roofer because the roofer works hard and they want to see him rise to the top?

Why would they want him at the top? That’s their spot. Paying themselves bonuses regardless of performance. Patting themselves on the back for mediocrity (The CEO of Groupon pays himself bonuses).

No, the hard-working dude…. belongs on the roof, in the tar. And he’s not invited to the board room just because he’s a hard worker. No?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive
 

@AlkalineState

“Instead of having revolution, people should instead make the system more flexible so that there is more social mobility. People who contribute more and are more valuable, >>more unique

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

Repost due to Reuters’ bug cutting of most of my post.

@AlkalineState

“Instead of having revolution, people should instead make the system more flexible so that there is more social mobility. People who contribute more and are more valuable, ** more unique ** move up and vice-versa for those who provide little value.”

I think you miss the unique part I mentioned above.

Think about it this way: if you have too many roofers. All of them move to the roof, then the roof will definitely collapse no matter how hard they work to make the roof more sturdy.

So I’m not too sure about the roof is eternally “their spot” though coz after the roof collapses, they might end up falling all the way to the basement.

Having said that, I do agree with you that many of the inbred attic dwellers are mediocre if not down right incompetent.

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

“more unique” sounds so awkward, I think “more special” is easier on the ear.

Posted by trevorh | Report as abusive
 

Hope you all enjoy what we will be transformed into. Tick Tock…

Posted by Crash866 | Report as abusive
 

Trevorh, we’re probably in agreement on this. Generally it has been my experience that hard work and good pay do not go hand in hand.

I work in middle management, delegating assignments and going to fairly pointless meetings on airplanes. It’s not hard work. And all the people I work around are in the same boat, whether they admit it or not. We make about 200K per year for stuff that probably a sharp ninth grader could do if you trained her up. Or,say, an average Junior. It’s formulaic. And the stuff you get wrong, you just chalk it up to gutsiness. “Hey, I had to make a call.” We do it all the time.

Meanwhile, there’s people working at McDonalds…. taking crap from customers, getting yelled at by a moron boss, by moron co-workers. Rough hours, split-shifts. Everything by-the-book, grease splatting everywhere, people rushing you the minute you walk in the door, fighting over power ranger happy meal toys. And those workers are making like…. $8 an hour.

I do not buy the notion that people are paid according to how hard they work. The inverse appears to be true.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive
 

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
 

@AlkalineState

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
 

@AlkalineState

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
 

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