Of Mandates and America's Center

Q: When Is a Mandate Not a Mandate?

A: When it belongs to a Democrat.

As I was watching the returns come in Tuesday night, I saw the 270-electoral vote threshold fall. I looked at the map and what states were left to call. As more results slowly started trickling in, the word that dare not speak its name bubbled up in my mind. I pushed it back. The evening was historic enough without trying to dress it up in flashy clothes.

290……300……320……349……I couldn’t deny it any more. I quietly whispered the word to myself: ”mandate.” The next day, I looked at the popular vote totals. Obama had a cushion of almost 7 million people. Just now, the AP has called North Carolina for Obama [www.wbt.com]. This symbolic win not only gives NC to a Democrat for the first time since Carter, it means a black man has just won the state that elected the racist Jesse Helms to the U.S. Senate for 30 years, as recently as 1996. It also brings Obama’s electoral vote count up to a muscular 364. That’s an ass-kicking you can believe in, my friends. That’s what you call a mandate.

Unless, of course, you’re a noted GOP media hack like Bob “Prince of Darkness” Novak [thinkprogress.org]:

“[Obama] may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.

Got that? Between this election and the 2006 mid-terms, Democrats have a larger majority in the senate than any party has had since the late 70’s. Obama’s 364 electoral votes are more than any candidate has won since Clinton in ’96. But more importantly, Obama’s electoral and popular vote totals positively dwarf President Bush’s totals in 2004. That was the year Bush claimed he’d earned “political capital” in his re-election, and bragged how he was going to spend it and there wasn’t anything people that didn’t vote for him could do about it. Or, as Bob Novak himself put it at the time:

Q: Bob Novak, is 51 percent of the vote really a mandate?

NOVAK: Of course it is. It’s a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn’t a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. … So the people who say there’s not a mandate want the president, now that he’s won, to say, Oh, we’re going to accept the liberalism that the — that the voters rejected. But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday. [11/06/04]

To sum up:

Bush 2004: 286 EV, 3.5 million popular vote margin = Mandate

Obama 2008: 364 EV, 7.4 million popular vote margin = Not a Mandate

And why is it not a mandate? Because people like Bob Novak, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, Republican strategists and most of the DC media establishment believe – incorrectly – that America is inherently a “center-right” country [thinkprogress.org].

It’s not.

In four of the last five national elections, a progressive Democrat has won more votes than the conservative Republican. We have a Democratic president, a Democratic congress and a Democratic senate. There are Democratic governors in 29 states. Republicans control only 14 state legislatures to Democrats’ 27. On social issues, health care, Iraq, etc., etc., America has for some time been moving increasingly leftward in terms of tolerance and progress policies. Red states are getting less red, blue states are getting bluer. This country is not “center-right,” only its national media.

America is “center-left,” has been for some time, and its liberal President-Elect just won a mandate from its people.

Why is that so hard to understand?

– Michael Turner