On election night we started hearing how Obama and the Democrats had a mandate. Why? Because of a substantial margin in the electoral college. For this article we’ll kindly forget their claims that Bush didn’t have one in 2000 despite a substantial margin in the Electoral College - this article is about why there isn’t one today.
Claim 1: Republicans and Their Causes Took a Shellacking
The reality is, they didn’t. Yes, we finally have more states where the people too a stand in favor of not discriminating in favor of heterosexual couples. Yes, we have states that the people took a stand and “Just said No” to criminalizing adult consumption of marijuana - even for recreational purposes.
However those events happened in traditionally, and solidly, liberal states. To say that liberals voted, well , as liberals is not a shellacking of Republicans, or Conservatives. If that happened in, say Montana, Idaho, and Texas perhaps you could use that to support the claim. As it happened, you can’t. This would be akin to the Republicans having a far-right member win a primary and calling it a shellacking of the Democrats. I think we can all see the idiocy of such a claim; now we need to realize this is fundamentally the same scenario.
Next, just because Party A wins the White House doesn’t mean the other side lost everything. The shift in seats between the Republicans and Democrats didn’t really change significantly. The House remains under Republican control, and nationally, the Democrats only had a plurality of the vote, not a one-sided victory. From the Senate there are 53 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 45 Republicans.
In 2012 the Republicans picked up 6 seats in the senate. In 2012 the Democrats picked up 2. Of those, one was not elected as a Democrat. So, form a voter choice perspective they picked up a single seat only. That is not a mandate. Of the three states that were picked up directly by Democrats, one was Joe Lieberman’s formerly independent-but-caucus-with-theDemocrats’ seat; so no real change there. The GOP picked up one state directly themselves. This all brings us back to a change of one net seat.
Claim 2: NOW the Electoral College Matters
The other half of this claim of the Mantle of Mandate, is the assumption that the totals in electoral college determine a mandate. First, let us look at the non-binding popular vote, as that is an essential part to the claim.
We are being told that a majority of Americans agree with the POTUS - Obama. That is factually inaccurate. Turnout was 57-60%. Of that. let us be generous and say the full 60%, Obama won 50.8%. In 2004 the victor had 50.7%. Obama himself essentially lost over 2 percentage points over his last election - and millions fewer votes overall. Lower results does not a mandate make.
The second aspect is the notion that now the electoral college matters. Let us compare these too. Obama lost about 40 electoral college votes over his previous total. Again. lower results does not a mandate make.
These numbers clearly, to me, indicate not a sweeping agreement of the Democrat Ideology; rather the Republicans putting up a non-starter for office. The Congressional makeup is essentially unchanged. The White House makeup is unchanged.
Nothing changing means you don’t have a mandate; it means nobody put forth an ideal that a sweeping vote total would have provided. Despite the Democrats claiming the Republicans were a vote for “more of the same”, it turns out voting overall simply gave us more of the same.
Why We Should Care
So, why should we the people care about the so-called mandate claims. Because if you examine the rhetoric the claim to have a mandate is nothing more than a thinly disguised way of saying “you should bow down to our ideas and desires” while claiming bi-partisanship - a term that today means “you roll over for we the victors”.
What we the people need isn’t claims of a mandate and cries for the other side to capitulate. What we need are statesmen willing to fight for their ideals as ideals openly and honestly. Not by vilifying the other side and deliberately or ignorantly misusing plain terms to suit a vilification agenda.
I don’t care if one side wins an 80% vote, all electoral college votes, and both houses of congress. The other side is not only entitled to fight for their positions, they are obligated to do so. Anyone that expects the other to capitulate in the face of an assumed majority should resign or be voted out for lack of knowledge of how the U.S. government is designed. Anyone who does capitulate on those reasons, should also resign or be voted out.
Coming Up: Prognostications
In the next installment I’ll do a bit pf prognostication on what will happen overall in this next two years.