These days, Republican political professionals seem to feel rather like Mikhail Gorbachev did in 1983 when he toured farms in Canada two years before he would become premier of the Soviet Union. Stunned by how productive a certain agribusiness was, Gorbachev asked how many farmhands had brought in the crop. “None,” came the answer; the farm was entirely mechanized.
From this one conversation, Gorbachev instantly understood the depths of the Soviet crisis and the desperate need for a new approach. For Republicans, the November 2012 election proved their technical inferiority in exactly the same way — it all came home to them in one day, Nov. 6, as President Obama’s campaign demonstrated a degree of technological superiority above the GOP’s efforts as shocking in its way as the mechanized agribusiness was to the hidebound ways of Soviet agriculture.