Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What if Barack Obama wins the general election in a landslide? Will that constitute “a mandate”?

Mandates are funny things. Normally, political winners only have mandates when other people agree that they have them. George W. Bush changed all that. In 2000, he somehow morphed winning the general election via electoral college and Supreme Court dictate while losing the popular vote into a mandate. He felt that he could do anything he damn well pleased, whether it was Constitutional or not. Bush and his supporters somehow decided that, when Bush beat John Kerry in 2004 in the popular vote by a 50.7% to 48.2% margin, that truly was a mandate, even though several thousand votes being cast different in Ohio or several other states would have changed the result. 2.5% of the people who vote in any given election now constitutes a “clear mandate”.

So, it is apparent the old “truths” about political mandates are no longer operative. You can call it whatever you want. So long as you do it loud enough and enough people are behind you, you can call anything by any name you want, and then impugn the character of anyone who disagrees with you.

I would just like to make sure that people understand this. If Barack Obama does go on to win the Democratic nomination and then cruise to a victory over John McCain in November (say, McCain carries 11 to 15 states, total), by the rules George Bush and his followers laid down in 2000 and 2004, Barack Obama will have a clear mandate. And, per those same rules, President Obama can use his “political capital” to do whatever the heck he feels like, whether or not the Republican party and the hard core conservatives of this country agree with him or not. Because, you see, he will have “a mandate”. As everyone now knows, mandates mean you don’t have to listen to losers.

And, although I don’t hold out any hope in the least that this will happen, I don’t really want to hear any bellyaching about it.

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