No, You Did Not Get a Mandate

“Mandate” is one of the stupidest words used in politics today.

You keep using that word

A mandate is an order, a command from the boss. A requirement.

Some restaurant owners mandate their employees wash their hands after using the bathroom. I personally like restaurant owners who mandate that.

States mandate that people who drive cars have car insurance. I like that mandate as well.

But do political representatives receive mandates?

When a politician wins an election, does he or she receive a mandate from the people?

For example, when Obama spanked John McCain in 2008, and the Democrats swept into power, did they have a mandate from the American people to enact certain legislation?

Obama had 52.9% of the voters behind him. McCain had 45.7% of them.

Many Democrats at the time claimed a mandate from “the American people.” But if you know some elementary school maths, you’ll quickly recognize that 52.9% is nowhere close to 100%. Or 90%. Or even 70%.

52.9% is close to, well, 50%. That’s half. As in half a pizza. Here’s a visual for the maths-impaired.

Half a pizza

Clearly, 52.9% is nowhere close to “the American people” or “voters.”

But this was lost on politicians who had the brain capacities of gerbils. They thought the elections magically evaporated the will of 45.7% of the people. They though the other half had suddenly disappeared. They thought government by and for the people meant government by and for half the people.

Hold on, John. In the Senate, Democrats won 57 seats, Republicans 41. In the House it was 257 to 178, or 59% to 41%.

Yeah, like I said. About half.

But such maths were beyond them. And so they began to push through legislation that only half the country wanted. Sometimes much less than half, as in the case of Obamacare.

They weren’t governing America. They weren’t leading America. They were leading half and oppressing the other half because they had “won the election.”

So, my fellow Americans, should winning an election give you the right to force something onto the other half of the populace they don’t want?

Is this what America is all about? Is that the freedom from tyranny we celebrate every fourth of July?

The Republicans won a great victory in this year’s election, taking back the Senate and expanding their seats in the House. In the Senate, it will probably be 53 to 45. In the House, 244 to 184.

But does this mean the American people have clearly given them a mandate to enact certain legislation? Does it mean they’re supposed to ignore the other half of the country and ram legislation down their throats they don’t agree with?

I’m a true blue conservative. Or true red, or whatever the color is. After the last six years, I never want to have legislation rammed down my throat again. And I’ve also come to the realization that I never want to do that to the other guy.

America hasn’t given the Republicans a mandate. Nor, as President Obama recently claimed, have they given Washington a mandate to “get stuff done.”

Getting stuff done is exactly the problem.

We don’t want you to get stuff done.

We want you to get stuff done that the vast majority of us agree on!

But, John, does that mean you want us to compromise on our principles?

No. I don’t want to compromise. I’m not interested in going along to get along. But I’m also not interested in a representative government that fails to represent HALF of us.

Here’s my proposal. Let’s go back and start over.

Let’s get rid of Obamacare and put something in its place that at least 60-65% of us can agree on. Maybe 70% of us. It won’t be a liberal weed dream. It won’t be a right wing vision of glory. But whatever gets enacted will be something all of us agree are good things.

And it will force us to win others to our way of thinking if we want to get the rest of the stuff we think is so splendid.

But, John, what if folks can’t agree?

Then we don’t enact. This forces us to use persuasion. It forces is to think win-win. It forces us to behave like a nation that loves freedom.

Immigration. Do we want an American where the president acts like a tyrant and forces something down half of our throats? Or do we want to enact something 65-70% of us can agree on?

The budget. Let’s roll back all the nonsense and get a spending plan that 65-70% of us can agree on.

What about the 30%? I don’t want to oppress them, but 100% ain’t never gonna happen. Let’s be practical. Besides, requiring a large majority means Washington will be at least by and for most of the people. And that’s better than what we have today.

So, do we have a mandate? If anything, I would hope the mandate would be to do stuff that represents America, not one party.

Edit 11/10/2014

And today I find this–an explicit example of the gerbil-brain thinking I reference above. This fine fellow is one of the architects of Obamacare, explaining that the law was written in a way to bamboozle the American voter. What we need in Washington is honest debate and persuasion. Not duplicity and lies. I’m appalled. This is the get-stuff-done-I-have-a-mandate mentality. Not the get stuff done that most of us agree on approach. These folks have completely misunderstood the purpose of government.

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