History has a way of repeating itself, sometimes in unexpected ways. One of the twentieth century’s truly remarkable developments has been the phenomenon of major political revolution, followed by an era of “protection” of that revolution. Both the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Cuban Revolution of 1959 involved conversion of those countries’ entire political and economic systems to communism. And both included significant protection-periods, following the actual seizure of power. Political opponents were identified, imprisoned, and sometimes executed during the protection-era, which lasted for years.
The Bolshevik revolution in Russia happened well before my time, but I was sixteen when Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries defeated the Batista government’s forces and took over Cuba in 1959. The grisly newspaper-reports of the hundreds – eventually thousands – of political executions stuck in my mind because I read the paper every day, being a paperboy at the time. Che Guevara, the villainous butcher now lionized on radical-chic T-shirts by ignorant young people, was personally responsible for hundreds of political killings in Cuba during that era.
As we approach nearly a century since the Russian Revolution, many details of that violent time have gone down the memory hole. One of those inconvenient details is the revolution-protection engineered by Felix Dzerzhinsky, Lenin’s ruthless founder of the Soviet Cheka – i.e., the Bolshevik Secret Police. Not only did Dzerzhinsky efficiently and violently root out opposition to the revolution within the Soviet Union, but he also reached out beyond the nation’s borders to capture and destroy outside opposition.
An ingenious and diabolical means for accomplishing the latter was a secret organization called “The Trust.” Anti-Bolshevik figures became involved with The Trust because they believed it was engaged in undoing the revolution. But its true purpose was to lure Bolshevik opponents back into the country where they could be captured and eliminated. Opponents of the revolution did not realize that Dzershinsky secretly controlled The Trust. Numerous influential Russians, who had fled the country, were drawn back by The Trust’s promises of support. Eventually, most were imprisoned or killed in ways made to look accidental. Some simply disappeared in Russia’s vastness, never to be heard from again.
I mention this melancholy history because it is instructive for our own time. Many Americans do not yet comprehend that their country has undergone an actual revolution in the last two years. In years to come, historians will refer to the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency as the “Obama Revolution” because of the many radical changes it wrought on American society, politics and economics. In partnership with the Democrat-controlled Congress of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid, Mr. Obama’s administration was able to engineer far-reaching changes that will be very difficult to undo, notwithstanding Republicans’ brave talk about “reversing” the Obama program.
Mr. Obama knows this, of course, but he also knows Republicans will try. Thus, his administration is already rolling out the “protection” phase of his revolution to neutralize Republican efforts to undo it. Of course, Mr. Obama will not have a secret organization like The Trust to deceive and literally kill his political opponents. (At least, not as far as I know.) What he will have is an artifice called “bipartisanship” that he will use to seduce and neutralize Republican opponents. Supportive Big Media will happily assure the American people that bipartisanship is genuine, and that Mr. Obama stands ready to embrace Republicans who will meet him halfway. (These would be those same Republicans who, only last month, Mr. Obama said could “come along for the ride,” but would have to “sit in back.”)
We are already seeing the initial phases of Mr. Obama’s Bipartisanship Trust. In his early statements, following the November 2 election, Mr. Obama has sounded like the very soul of reason, as he appealed to Republicans to work with him to solve the country’s problems – problems which he says are too big to be solved by one party alone.
What a revelation! Why was this truth about our national problems not discovered until now? And why were the grievous problems of 10% unemployment and trillion-dollar deficits shoved onto a back shelf, while all of Mr. Obama’s efforts were focused on health-care reform?
Answers to these questions are unlikely to emerge. Bipartisanship was much touted by Mr. Obama during his presidential campaign, as part of his “hope and change” agenda. But there was little sign of it during his first two years in office, while Democrats held the upper hand. Republicans were routinely shut out of deliberations on health care and stimulus spending, and were then branded the “Party of No.” When Mr. Obama met Republican lawmakers for a supposedly “substantive” discussion on health-care reform, it was just a photo-op featuring a lengthy filibuster by the president. No Republican ideas – of which there were many – were seriously considered.
The November Congressional elections produced a changed political environment. Republicans have been much strengthened, even if they don’t have complete congressional control. That is why Mr. Obama and his Democrat comrades have trotted out bipartisanship, hoping to draw as many Republicans as possible to their side – thereby neutralizing them. Those who get seduced by Mainstream Media’s “bipartisan statesman” praises will be rendered ineffective now – and possibly unelectable in the future. Republicans neutered by the Bipartisanship Trust will help protect the Obama Revolution long enough to institutionalize its excessive spending and radical social and fiscal agendas, until they are irreversible.
Both Lenin and Castro knew time was on their side. They understood that they needed only to keep their revolutions in place for a few years. After that, resistance from the public would prevent reversal because enough people would have gained some advantage from the revolution’s new provisions. This weight of public opinion made it impossible to “go back” to the old ways.
Mr. Obama knows this, too. The revolutionary principle of “running out the clock” has already been affirmed in the case of the General Motors takeover. The takeover robbed a few thousand bond-holders of their rightful place at the head of the line for recompense. But Big Media have forgotten all that now, in the euphoria of a new GM stock-issue which appears to indicate that the takeover was a financial “success.” (Wouldn’t you be better off if you could just walk away from your financial obligations?)
The old GM bond-holders – many of which had their retirement savings swiped by Mr. Obama’s intervention – are seldom mentioned in the Media, nowadays. Owners of the new GM stock far outnumber them. It is doubtful that even the new Republican House of Representatives will address this larcenous action by the Obama government. This part of the Obama Revolution has succeeded by hanging on for just under two years. It should be interesting to see how long other aspects of the revolution need to hang on before they become fully institutionalized as well.
Mr. Obama’s gigantic spending spree, by which he pumped the annual federal deficit up over $1.3 trillion, will be one of the most instructive indicators of the Obama Revolution’s permanence. His deficit-reduction commission – headed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – has already led the way on this. Almost unmentioned in Mainstream Media’s recent reports about the commission’s recommendations is the implicit assumption that Mr. Obama’s spending initiatives are now part of the budget “baseline.” To reduce the deficit, other budget areas will have to be cut, and new revenues raised, according to the Simpon-Bowles prescription. If Mr. Obama’s new spending and government-enlargement are allowed to stand, those parts of his revolution will be confirmed and made permanent.
Alan Simpson is a former U. S. Senator who made his bones as a conservative. Erskine Bowles is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. The commission they lead thus embodies the very bipartisan model Mr. Obama wants Republicans to embrace. A year from now – possibly in less time than that – we’ll know how successful the Bipartisanship Trust has been in protecting the Obama Revolution.