A Shot for a Possible New World

Exclusive: President Obama’s reelection – perhaps even more than his first victory – marks a potential shift in the political and economic structure of the United States, as the old white ruling elite loses its grip. There is even a chance for revolutionary change, says Morgan Strong.

By Morgan Strong

Near dawn on April 19, 1775, as British regulars confronted American militiamen at Lexington Green in Massachusetts, a shot rang out, leading to a brief skirmish that killed eight Americans and touched off the Revolutionary War. The moment has gone down in history as “the shot heard round the world.”

But the reelection of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, may mark the beginning of another American Revolution, one in which the nation’s white oligarchy and its mostly white electoral supporters face a demographic change that is altering the power relationships of the United States.

A graphic of President Barack Obama meeting with a group of Americans with his quote claiming a “mandate” to help average citizens. (Photo credit: barackobama.com)

Obama’s reelection – defeating Mitt Romney, a wealthy white investor of life-long privilege – was driven by non-white voters of African, Hispanic and Asian descent as well as by unmarried women, gays and young whites who have embraced the nation’s multicultural future.

Though some skeptics dispute the significance of this electoral shift – arguing that Obama is just one more lackey of the nation’s wealthy elites and is too cautious to do much – the election’s outcome offers a rare opportunity for a major shift in America’s power relationships. The biracial son of a single mother who needed food stamps is clearly not what the white oligarchy had in mind for U.S. president in 2013.

Perhaps the oligarchy and its apologists could slough off Obama’s first term as a quirk in history, the result of his unique personal skills and the fact that Wall Street had just led the nation into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But a second term, especially with unemployment still high and people frustrated by political gridlock in Washington, was harder to explain.

After all, Romney was the overwhelming choice of rich white men and many white men of lesser means, especially in the South. Until the stunning results of Election Night, Romney and his well-to-do supporters were envisioning years of Republican dominance, making life easier for corporate chieftains and the investor class while slashing programs for the poor, retirees and middle class.

After all, that was the way things traditionally were in America, with a few exceptions like the period of the New Deal after Wall Street similarly drove the nation into an economic crisis in the 1930s. Through most of its history, America has been ruled by an oligarchy. So why should things change now?

Since the nation’s start, wealthy, well-positioned men (and a few women) have controlled the political process and ruled through their surrogates in elective office. That is how so-called “revisionist” historians describe U.S. history, taking a less romanticized version of our past and present. They cut to the quick, offering a dispassionate, less heroic version of the American experience by analyzing causes and effects, decisions and evidence.

G. William Domhoff, in his book Who Rules America, described the political process of the U.S. as one held captive by a small percentile of the population whose position and wealth have allowed them to control the ordinary citizen’s political and economic condition, a classic oligarchy.

Domhoff first published his “revisionist” thesis in 1967 and added new editions in 1983, 1998, 2002 and 2006. He demonstrated the interrelationship, between U.S. presidents and their extended families, to show the close ties of many national leaders from the country’s inception. These leaders served their own and the oligarchy’s interests, maintaining the status quo that is most to their advantage, politically and economically.

Looking at U.S. history through this lens, we see that the American Revolution was begun as a rejection of the burden of taxation by the elite of early American society. George Washington, perhaps America’s greatest hero, was more a corporation than an individual. He was the largest landowner in the country and owned the largest whisky distillery.

Similar interests were shared by nearly all the Founding Fathers. John Hancock owned a fleet of ships. Benjamin Franklin was a businessman publishing newspapers and books. Thomas Jefferson owned a vast plantation. They all found the Crown’s taxation excessive.

These principals of the Revolution agitated successfully among the American populace for a break with the British King. The King himself, an absolute monarch, made a great deal of money through conquest, colonization and taxation. Taxation of all colonies was necessary to support his wars and his expansion of territory.

There was no noble purpose to British conquest; it was only a matter of creating wealth and power. Among America’s revolutionary leaders, the prevailing opinion was better to keep the money at home, according to the “revisionist” historians. With victory over the British, America’s revolutionary elite seized and held power through a wealthy oligarchy of its own.

Domhoff also described the close personal and family ties that developed among many past presidents. There were a number of intermarriages among the oligarchy to ensure continuation of its dominance of American politics and economy. The Roosevelts, originally an American colonial family of Dutch descent, are an example.

The rich coalesced into a social class that developed institutions through which the children of its members were socialized into a permanent upper class. Members of this class still control many of the major corporations, the primary mechanism for generating and holding wealth in this country.

In this reality, the ordinary American had less power through the electoral process than was understood (or claimed in U.S. civics classes). The ability of the electorate to force changes that benefited the masses and to create a more equitable society was severely limited by the elite’s resistance.

Voting does not necessarily make government responsive to the will of the majority when the control of the government is actually in the hands of an elite that will not permit its primacy to be undone or its wealth diminished.

That is perhaps until now. In recent decades, American society has changed with non-whites making up a larger and larger percentage of the electorate, and many from this group do not want to continue the old structure favoring the wealthy white oligarchy. The influence of the have not’s is growing. The white, complacent majority is no longer the deciding factor in U.S. elections.

There has been a great deal said about the brilliance of President Obama’s electoral campaign, but there also were other important factors: the changing electorate, a desire for real change, and a rejection of what is seen by many as an obstructionist elite that has grown obscenely rich while making the lives of the majority more difficult and even untenable.

No candidate in modern U.S. politics represented this elite class more fully than did Mitt Romney. In a private meeting with rich supporters last May, Romney disparaged the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax (although most are assessed payroll taxes and others in the group are retirees and soldiers in combat zones).

But Romney made clear that he and his class view these Americans (and others who receive government assistance) as society’s parasites. His 47 percent comment was a revealingly thoughtless remark by a member of the oligarchy, albeit a remark that correctly expressed a frustration with the changing demographics, which are contrary to the elite’s interests.

Thus, Romney’s defeat creates an opportunity for the country to change direction in a revolutionary way, responding to the frustrated dreams of the embattled middle class, the poor and the young. But there remain many forces resisting any new political or economic paradigm – and there are doubts that the often conciliatory Obama can be an agent for fundamental change.

As for Romney, after his defeat, many supporters abandoned him like a sinking ship, clamoring down ropes like rats and distancing themselves from his incompetence as a candidate. For his part, Romney reprised his 47 percent comment by telling financial backers that he lost because Obama provided “gifts” to favored demographic groups and then turned them out to vote.

Though an insult to those voters, Romney’s remark reflected something real: the fact that the U.S. political/economic paradigm is shifting away from the old status quo which – for generations – has  insured that well-to-do whites could confidently expect to receive most of the nation’s bounty.

Morgan Strong was a professor of Middle Eastern and American history, and was an advisor to CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on the Middle East.

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19 comments on “A Shot for a Possible New World

  1. TrishaJ on said:

    From your pen to God’s ear!

  2. Alberto Duenas on said:

    I do not know about the chances for a new world order. This confrontation looks more lopsided than that of David & Goliath. However I write to point out an error:

    “clamoring down ropes like rats” should read: “clambering down ropes like rats” instead.

  3. Rehmat on said:

    Obama may be the “lesser evil” – but his first four years in the White House have proven that he is even worse than Dubya Bush when it comes to killing millions of innocents around the world – and working for the 1% fatcats.

    Obama’s former senior security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in a speech at an event organized by the National American Iranian Council (NAIC) and the Arms Control Association in Washington on November 26, spilled out the truth.

    “I don’t think there is an implicit obligation for the United States to follow like a stupid mule whatever the Israelis do. If they decide to start a war, simply on the assumption that we’ll automatically be drawn into it, I think it is the obligation of friendship to say, ‘you’re not going to be making national decision for us.’ I think that the United States has the right to have its own national security policy.”

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/11/30/brzezinski-americans-are-stupid-israeli-mules/

    • tf gray on said:

      Rehmat, did you notice that Zbig was speaking against our being the Israeli’s pool boys? If you want to see folks clamoring for us to abandon our independence to the dictates of the Israeli Right, just take a look at the Republican Party.

  4. L. Abad on said:

    Morgan Strong is far too optimist. Obama has given plenty of evidence that his search for legitimacy is approval by the oligarchy. That pursuit has dominated his mind. From time to time he has remembered the many promises he has made to be elected just to come up, in the end, with watered down policies, compromises that reveal him as pulled between what a President ought to be (according to the oligarchy) and what he fears He really is: an accident of history. After his second term the United States will be farther down in the scale of respect countries have for each other. Right now, on the Palestinian issue, a good indicator of United States prestige around the world, it figures as a perceived vassal state of Israel supported by Panama, Canada and some remote islands in the far western Pacific.

  5. incontinent reader on said:

    Meanwhile, Syria is being dismembered, the French have installed a fundamentalist sectarian government in part of Aleppo, and the U.S. and NATO are bringing in a missile system to the Turkish border with Syria, and our proxies are slaughtering civilians and setting off bombs in Damascus and other populated urban centers. Yet, the U.S. is silent about all of this terrorism- but of course it is, since it is ultimately the responsible party in this tragedy with our State Department, Pentagon and CIA implicated in all of it. So, while one appreciates Morgan Strong’s good intentions and his past willingness to speak truth to power, I doubt the Syrian people have the same optimism as he does right now.

    • F. G. Sanford on said:

      Maybe Susan Rice will help us all get into the Holiday Spirit with a little “humanitarian” bombing…

  6. Whatever on said:

    The author blatantly leaves out a teeny, wheeny little fact: that the vast majority of the wealth of this white elite (including the Roosevelts) comes from drug tafficking. Whatever the demographics of the day, these drug trafficking elites will not allow any kind of freedom and justice (economic or otherwise) without a bloody revolution. This is a recurrent theme throughout Parry & Associates’ columns: a whitewash for a so-called new “legitimate” power configuration. Look at the secretary of state to be: Kerry; another descendant of the drug trafficking Skull & Bones club.

    I don’t know who you people think you’re fooling with your blabbering. Until these drug lords are exposed and brought to justice there is no legitimacy possible. “Oh, they’re too powerful and at least we now aren’t the plantation slaves but the house negro”…LMAO…whatever. Lots of people know exactly who you are and what kind of Devil you’re making deals with.

    • GerryBD on said:

      “Whatever” has a point that certainly needs more open pursuit from Consortium News -that of the deep connection with the ruling elite and the international illicit drug trade. This is a deeply held secret which is slowly coming to light. See Professor Peter Dale Scott’s research as a starting point http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvhiK0reDwE Come on consortium News you need to do your part in actively researching this topic. You have the brains and research skills among your contributing writers. If you really want to change the power structure, this is one topic that will lead to the heart of the rot. No elected official in high office will bring this story to light -especially not a President

  7. John Puma on said:

    The article’s only accurate point is that of shifting US demography.

    But it will take much more than merely voting for Obama to compel him to do anything significantly different for the old-white-ruling-trash than would Mitt the Professional Moocher.

    The chances of a second term fulfilling the widespread expectation for Obama are roughly similar to the chances of his giving us the X-mas present of a loud and public proclamation: “Take your jive-ass ‘fiscal cliff’ and shove it sideways.”

    Happy Holidays: http://tinyurl.com/88n9ggo

  8. Lantern Rogue on said:

    Funny how nobody is talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is being negotiated in secrecy. What I mean by secrecy is nobody but the people working on the agreement have access to the text. The people working on this ‘trade’ agreement are corporate lawyers and lobbyists. So much for transparency………

    • incontinent reader on said:

      Good point. What has been disclosed is devastating, and should be the subject of a hard hitting article in Consortium News.

  9. rosemerry on said:

    Obama has helped only the élites who fund him. The population was terrified into voting for him this time by the (purposely selected???)completely unelectable stooge Robme. The banksters, Wall Street, corporations, Israel-firsters and the rest know that Obama is their man. The middle class hardly exists any more; the poor, incarcerated, young, sick, those on minimum wage, immigrants have been ignored almost completely. Concentration on “terrorists”, “national security”, “”helping our friends” and making more enemies are the priorities of this Mr Hope and Change who said not a word last week about FIFTY Palestinian children’s deaths by Israeli/US bombs in Gaza, while he quickly donates more weapons and “defense” to Israel.

    • herr rosemerry and her consortinazi cohorts never mention the deaths of Israelis from repeated rocket attacks perpetrated from gaza w/hamas and iranian assistance. Their hypocritical stances shows the selectivity which is part and parcel of their positions.

  10. fluoridated on said:

    this article intimates wealth redistribution. although our current system is fascism, no matter what system we realize, if the collective’s moral standards continue to wither, society will never see justice. many historians neglect to point out the evil which has been flourishing thanks to those doing its bidding, seduced by wealth and power. If God was put first, government would be unnecessary.

  11. Savitri Basaviah on said:

    The latest talking point of the Republicans is,”Obama is aware of his legacy…. he would not want to do that… for history…” in the “fiscal cliff” debate. They are so worried about what would transpire in this current credit ceiling/fiscal cliff situation.

  12. JungleJim on said:

    Let’s try to keep things in their historical perspective. Lincoln freed the slaves but was completely ambivalent at first, right? Obama couldn’t do all sorts of things his first term, even if he wanted to. Obamacare (although horribly watered down) is a sort of miracle. Remember the Clintons on healthcare? How savvy do you think a black man has to be to even get elected in this country? Answer: extremely. Morgan Strong is spot on. President Barrack Obama still has surprises up his sleeve for all of us, especially his supporters!

  13. J.B.Gregorovich on said:

    Obama is a competent demagogue. However none of the commentators has paid attention to the fact that he was a candidate because the white bosses of the Democratic party wanted an electable nigger as a candidate.