How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday

Summary: Today we continue explanation of a non-consensus view of the world, quite unlike anything from any of the 200 channels of your TV (all showing an almost identical picture of the world). Since the news media see the election only as a race or joust, let’s use a sporting perspective. How might the election look if seen from a blimp looking down on the Campaign 2012 stadium? Third in a series.


Campaign 2012!

Politics is more complex than football. There are sets of players in uniform on the field, but four teams — all supported by a small set of powerful interest groups in the stands. Watching the plays in terms of the blue and red uniforms gives misleading results.

Today we take a brief (ie, highly simplified) look at the 2012 election, showing how the binary good guy – bad guy narrative tells us nothing — except that our OODA loop is broken.

The Blue team won, led by Captain Obama. They did so by moving to the right, co-opting many conservative policies.

  • Abandoning liberals reform ideas for health care (eg, single payer), Obama adopted RomneyCare (designed by conservative think tanks, greatly profiting insurance and pharmaceutical companies).
  • He institutionalized much of Bush Jr’s war on terror (widespread foreign interventions (eg, covert ops, assassinations), massive growth of intelligence (both domestic and foreign), massive domestic security apparatus, steady erosion of civil rights. In the foreign policy debate Obama was to the right of Romney.
  • He abandoned the New Deal’s policy of close regulation of Wall Street, continuing the Clinton and Bushes Wall Street-led economic policies.

The Red team never effectively responded to this. Their broken OODA loop produced the insane “oppose the radical socialist Obama”, which appealed only to those inside their bubble.

The liberal team (no uniforms) lost. The conservative team (no uniforms) won. Neither have distinctive uniforms, so this victory was not apparent to those getting their information from the sports media (ie, the horse-race obsessed “new” media).


It seems so obvious when Ainsley Earhardt explains things.

The crowds in the stands cheered and boo’d, having no idea as to the true nature of the games being played before them. Our political gurus’ function to maintain this confusion. Explaining the actual dynamics (which many of them well understand) would confused the crowds, who might become unruly.

The most powerful interest groups in the stands won. In America long-term political victory comes when both parties accept a policy. After WWII the GOP accepted the core New Deal policies. Our large wars (WWI, WWII, the cold war, the war on terror) all had transformative and long-lasting effects on US society possible only with support of the two major parties. They won through patient, long-term, large-scale investing in people and institutions with the goal of moving the Overton Window to the right.

They funded institutions which recruited, trained, and supported people: leaders to advance conservative interests. Think tanks, media, college programs, and a host of other kinds of political machinery were created or re-tasked (eg Hoover Institution) and expanded. Look at this excerpt from The Shame Project’s bio of Megan McArdle. The Left has nothing of the same scale and sophistication. This is how one reshapes a nation.

McArdle receivedjournalism training from the right-wing Institute for Humane Studies, headed by Charles Koch since the 1960s. According to the IHS, its journalism program “places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at media companies and non-profit newsrooms” and offers “mentoring and job placement assistance.” The program currently includes a $3,200 stipend, as well as travel allowance.

In 2011, McArdle returned to her Koch alma mater as a guest lecturer and instructor at the Institute for Humane Studies’ “Journalism & the Free Society” summer internship program. The program tackled such topics as “Is an ‘objective’ press possible — or even desirable?” Other faculty members joining McArdle that year included Radley Balko, then-editor at the Kochs’ Reason magazine.

In a sign of just how close and trusted McArdle is to the Kochs, in October 2011, she was chosen to emcee Charles Koch’s 50th Anniversary gala celebration of his flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, featuring Charles Koch as the keynote speaker and guest of honor. McArdle and Koch were joined by hundreds of leading GOP donors and activists. An IHS newsletter wrote of her performance: “Emcee Megan McArdle wove a humorous narrative through the program.” The IHS attempted to hide McArdle’s involvement, scrubbing her name from the dinner announcement page. (See side bar for more info on the gala event.)

In 2006, McArdle published an article in Reason, a magazine controlled by the Kochs since the 1970’s, headlined, “The Virtue of Riches: How Wealth Makes Us More Moral“. McArle’s article argued that wealth makes people “more tolerant of minorities, more welcoming to immigrants, more solicitous of their fellow citizens, more supportive of democratic institutions, and just plain better specimens of humanity.” In fact, studies show that the wealthiest Americans are more likely to lie and steal, while the poor donate proportionally much more of their incomes to charity.

In August 2007, The Atlantic {owned by self-described neo-con David G. Bradley} hired McArdle as a business and economics blogger.Her first post, titled “Dont panic!” [sic], wrongly predicted that the liquidity shock that hit the financial system earlier that month was nothing to worry about: “Having a nasty market contraction does not mean that your economy automatically goes down the tubes.”

In 1980 we saw their first major win, bringing their rebuilt version of the GOP to national power. In 2008 we saw their next major win, brining their version of the Democratic Party to national power. Even four years later the Left does not see this, because their OODA loop is just as broken as the Right’s. As seen in this report by Charles Pierce (liberal and experienced journalist) at Esquire’s website yesterday: “The Greatness of Barack Obama Is Our Great Project“. Saying such things in November 2008 was optimism, saying them now is IMO delusional.

Part of what drives people crazy about {Obama} … is that he so clearly understands his own genuine historical stature, and that he wears it so easily, and that he uses it so deftly. It is not obvious. He does not use it brutally or obviously. It is just there with him, a long and deep reservoir of violence and sorrow and tragedy and triumph out of which comes almost everything he does.

He came into this office a figure of history, unlike anyone who’s become president since George Washington. The simple event of him remains a great gravitational force in our politics. It changes the other parts of our politics in their customary orbits. It happens so easily and so in the manner of an immutable physical law that you hardly notice that it has happened until you realize that what you thought you knew about the country and its people had been shifted by degrees until it is in a completely different place.

Change, he talks about. Change is the force around him when he walks into the room.

Pixie dust comes in many forms.

Charisma is pixie dust blown into our eyes so that we cannot see clearly.

6 November 2012 was a massive victory for the plutocracy, another step in the construction of The New America.

It might no longer be feasible to recover The America That Once Was.

My guess (emphasis on guess) is that we’ll need a few vision of America, both in terms of goals and citizenship, before we can even think about organization and tactics.

This series about Campaign 2012

  1. Conservatives, celebrate the historic victory you won today!
  2. The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!
  3. How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday
  4. Civil rights just took a step forward, the slow hard way. The right way.
  5. The hidden major party, the key to political control of America

For More Information

Posts on the FM website about politics are listed at these Reference Pages:

About hope and change:

  1. “Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart” by Tom Engelhardt, 21 November 2008
  2. Obama’s national security team: I hope you didn’t really believe in change?, 26 November 2008
  3. Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!), 9 December 2008
  4. Change you should not have believed in, 10 February 2009
  5. Quote of the Day, 20 May 2009 — Connect the dots between Bush and Obama to see the nice picture.
  6. Stratfor looks at Obama’s foreign policy, sees Bush’s foreign policy, 30 August 2009
  7. Motto for the Obama administration: “The more things change, …”, 5 September 2009
  8. Change, the promise and the reality, 11 October 2009
  9. Another bold action by the radical leftists of Team Obama, 9 September 2010


18 thoughts on “How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday”

  1. I disagree with “In 2008 we saw their next major win, bringing their version of the Democratic Party to national power. ” I believe this happened in 1992 with Bill Clinton, a “New Democrat”. I think the distinction is important because I hear liberals lovingly calling both Bill and Hilary “liberals” all the time. They definitely are not and we may see Hilary run for president in 2016.

    The messianic Charles Pierce article. Very disturbing. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    1. SDW,

      I agree totally.

      I considered mentioning the Clinton revolution in the Democratic Party, but the post was already too long and complex. I’ve learned that posts with non-consensus perspectives have to be tightly focused and as brief as feasible.

      The Clintons sold the Democratic Party’s economic policy to Wall Street — being great negotiators, they got a good price for this part of its New Deal soul.

      Ditto for their smaller but still significant welfare reform (1996’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act).

      Being political aces, they realized the political advantage of increased use of US military power — depriving the GOP of the “soft on defense” attack.


      These posts discuss events, trends, effects — seeking to observe clearly and accurately orient ourselves to reality. In my opinion these are the first steps, necessary before we can plan.

      I’m not discussing good-bad, right-wrong, moral-immoral. Feel free to comment about those aspect of these things.

  2. “It might no longer be feasible to recover The America That Once Was.”

    People frequently imagine a return to romanticized past. In fact, I would say that is essentially what it means to be a conservative. I’m not convinced that the past actually was significantly better than what we have today, although that is just my perspective.

    “My guess … is that we’ll need a few vision of America, both in terms of goals and citizenship”

    Personally, I would like to see a future USA where the Federal government in DC is either an unquestionably positive force in the economy and the lives of everyday citizens, or at least is not a vector for the collateral damage of abstract political disputes.
    What is your vision, I wonder?

  3. “My guess (emphasis on guess) is that we’ll need a new vision of America both in terms of goals and citizenship before we can even think about organization and tactics.”

    My own guess is that you are correct in your assumption about the necessity of a new vision for America before we can even think about organization and tactics.

    But is also seems clear that these new visions will most likely pose profound threats to established political distinctions between left and right.

    For example, one important cause, left out of your discussion “of a movement to the right,” is the loss of an alternative model(however deeply flawed) to the market, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Most members of the left/progressive/liberal side of the political spectrum are still extremely hesitant to examine too closely the nature of this collapse, because it appears too damaging to their cherished assumptions about the a priori positive role of the state in modern economic governance.

    Another issue to be confronted in the construction of a new vision is whether our recent systemic and still unfolding financial/economic crisis of 2008-2012 is an indication of a deeper cultural crisis which may necessitate a shift in our collective value system to support new forms of economic organization.

    If we are in the midst of a cultural crisis as well as an economic crisis than those on the right (especially libertarians) will have to face the issue that societies may never be instituted only on the basis of supposedly spontaneous market practices and individual interest but first on the basis of some type of cultural/symbolic value system, which is largely ignored in their key assumptions.

    Finally, if our contemporary crisis is cultural as well as economic then the issue of creeds, their contents, and how they are established, maintained and modified may become a crucial part of the formulation of an alternative vision.

    We may find ourselves once again examining the concept of charisma, not in its modern political dimension but in its more ancient understanding of the articulation of what is not to be done—something with is an anathema to both the modern left and right politically as well as culturally.

    1. Jim takes us one step further in our attempt to peer ahead into the future. Thank you for posting!

      I’ve long said we will be what we want to be, but I have no feel — no guesses — as to what we want to be.

      Jim points us to some deeper issues that produce such answers. He implicitly points to the ur-source of insights about our time: Nietzsche.

      The world revolves around the creators of new ideas, which come from people who travel into the abyss and return with thoughts that can (under favorable circumstances) form the basis on which people can live. Such as Moses, Jesus, and Buddha.

      There is no logic in the abyss. Logic is something we impose on its wildness so that we can attempt to understand and control it. But there are monsters down there. The last westerner to journey there and return brought us the NAZI party — to the applause of many good and great people.

      Interesting times ahead.

    2. The image of the America lost, a place where equality allowed those from any background to rise above their ancestors, through ownership of land, starting a thriving business, inventing the next “big” thing. A place where all people of all backgrounds would receive free quality education. A place where the majority have the power and in so much design the world around them through voting yes or no on policies. A place where you can worship any god in any way, “where the streets are paved with gold”! It took a few tries but eventually some of this came into effect, briefly.

      “It might no longer be feasible to recover The America That Once Was.”
      So which America are we talking of? The one where white men have rights, or the next one that allowed black men into the picture, or the next one when women were let in?

      I am all for the idea of getting some innovative, educated, philosophically minded people together, to design a whole new way of thinking, because the original designers of our current constitution, I would say, were a bit shallow and near sighted when it came to the freedom of “all” citizens.

      I have began to envision a “United States” that are slightly less united, in that a separation could be made with enough differentiation, that people could live in the area that best suited their beliefs and values. Perhaps more like united countries. In this respect the federal government would simply be a force that kept the united countries peaceful.

      I see a lot of conflict beginning in the populace because we have prided ourselves on being a “cultural mixing pot” perhaps that is the part of this American experiment that is failing..?

      1. gaiasrequite asks a question often discussed on the FM website!

        “So which America are we talking of? The one where white men have rights, or the next one that allowed black men into the picture, or the next one when women were let in?”

        I’ve long wondered if we can easily go forward while we regard our past with amnesia. Does the resulting divorce from our past — substituting fantasy for history — weaken us? Is this part of, or a cause of, our difficulty in learning lessons from our present?

        My direct answer to gaiasrequite’s question is …

        We should learn from the glories of the Founding (blemished as they were by slavery).
        We should learn from our 19th C history, which IMO was a horror show in almost every way.
        We should learn from our mistakes and successes in the Great Depression and WWII years.
        And we should strive to equal our post-WWII performance.

        The last might be the most powerful impulse. We were generous in setting terms after war, rebuilding friend and foe, striving to build a just, prosperous & stable new world order, building institutions to provide better opportunity to all at home, and extending civil rights to groups denied it in the past (most important, ending the civil war, a century after it began).

        That’s not to say we were angels. Just that we did well on balance, and can do so again.

        See posts about our history here:

    3. FM Thank you for the reading material I will read it!

      But I think my above statement was a bit misunderstood.

      So let me try again….“So which America are we talking of? The one where white men have rights, or the next one that allowed black men into the picture, or the next one when women were let in?”

      By stating this I was emphasizing an issue I see in America which is that there are those who would like to see a return to one of the earlier versions of our country. Though you, as well as many others who speak on this site, are of the nature that you are capable of moving from the past and learning from it; many are not. I personally love human error I believe it makes us wiser, but again there are those to whom wisdom is some hokey thing created by Satan to sway you from “Gods” word.

      This is why my mind some times wanders to the Idea that perhaps a nation of smaller countries vs less powerful individual states, could be a fix. Give those who don’t want progression a place to lay stagnant so that the rest of can continue on a path of discovery, without them clogging up the works with their shallow mindedness.

      I give great credit to the men responsible for our current constitution, I was making a point ( perhaps poorly) that no matter how great a mind, it is only great in its self. Unfortunately brilliance is not a disease that can be spread among those who find bliss in their ignorance. I do not see Americas slavery days as any type of historical scar. All nations across the globe had slaves. It is not a part of American history, but of human history. I emphasize History

      1. “By stating this I was emphasizing an issue I see in America which is that there are those who would like to see a return to one of the earlier versions of our country.”

        You are right, I didn’t see that meaning. Now that you point it out, I see its validity. I’ll take a drink, watch some Katy Perry videos, and hope I can forget that such people exist…

  4. The democrats still lack a super majority and Obama has Social Security in his crosshairs. Be very careful about watching Washington in the next few months.

  5. FM: “My guess (emphasis on guess) is that we’ll need a few vision of America, both in terms of goals and citizenship, before we can even think about organization and tactics. Note: These posts discuss events, trends, effects — seeking to observe clearly and accurately orient ourselves to reality. In my opinion these are the first steps, necessary before we can plan. I’m not discussing good-bad, right-wrong, moral-immoral. Feel free to comment about those aspect of these things.”

    One cannot move forward in any meaningful way until you define the Problem. And defining a problem,by the very nature of making a distinction, is ethical and moral. To avoid “Discussing good-bad….” simply avoids defining the problem. Thus you walk in circles. Vision. Goals. All of these presuppose strong value judgments.

    Keep putting it off and you will literaly go no where. We see too much of that here.


    1. “Keep putting it off and you will literaly go no where”

      Breton might be correct. These questions about sequence of tasks are important, but have no clear answers. Here’s mine.

      Think of Plato’s Cave as our society. We’re chained here in front of the fire (TV?), seeing only shadowns. Some of us believe the organization of our society should change. I agree, and say that our first task is to see the real world. There’s no point in discussing higher (but more abstract) questions of moral and political theory while we see only shadows.

      Others will disagree as to step one. To what extent should we base our new society on objectivist principles — or rely on priests to guide us using the traditional values from The Book? When should the people take direct control of the means of production, or should they rely on a vanguard to guide them during the transition? Should our new State even have a government, or should we rely on contractural arrangements between consenting individuals for all functions?

      Discussions about morals and values take us into deep questions. I suggest first that we turn off the TV and go into the light (or shifting metaphors, that we stand and rip off our blindfolds). I suggest that we first assume responsibility for the current State of America, which will IMO incite us to further actions as citizens. Then we can discuss step two.

      That’s my opinion, on a matter for which proofs are impossible. I explain my view, and open it for discussion.

      I don’t state it as certainty, like so many others in these comments. “Everybody else is unable to clearly see what obviously in front of your noses”. “Everybody who doesn’t agree with me is wrong”. My personal epistemology dismisses those views. That too is a personal belief of mine, which I state as opinion for discussion.

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