Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's All This Talk About Republican Mandates?

There's a rather bizarre, "opposite day" type of phenomenon taking place in spin land that doesn't seem to jive with reality.  Which, given the election season we just got out of, should surprise nobody, of course.  The natural order of elections in a 2-party system goes something like this:  both sides present their proposed solutions to the problems facing the country; those solutions are then weighed by the people who then signify their approval or rejection of said solutions by taking a vote.  At the end of the day, one side wins and one side loses.  Now this next part is key: when one side wins, that means we try things THEIR way ("their"referring to the side that won).  That's the whole point of having an election.  Now that doesn't mean that the winning side won't compromise on some of their positions or refuse to bring the losing side into the discussion.  Of course not.  Both sides will still have to work together on whatever final solution is adopted.  But there seems to be an odd misconception out there among House Republicans that the "shellacking" that the Republicans just recently suffered during the 2012 election means nothing.  That somehow, America's doubling down on Obama means nothing.  That the Democrats running the table on Senate races means nothing.  Now I'm not saying that the winning side gets to have their way 100% of the time on every issue from here on out for the next 2-4 years, but it is difficult to imagine that the Republicans can make any argument based in reality that their side somehow received a "mandate" from the American people last week.  Unless the word "mandate" is Swahili for "ass whupping" then I'm pretty sure the Republican party lost on election night.  In fact, their side lost big.  Decisively even.  It's time for them to put down away the spin, stop the fighting, and rejoin the rest of us back in reality.

But that's not what we're hearing.  The day after the election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the following:

"The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president's first term.  Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office."

 House Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH) said the following:
"We'll have as much of a mandate as he will."
You have as much of a mandate as the guy who destroyed you at the polls?  Really?  Let's take a look at the facts for a moment.  The last time Republicans tried to convince the country that they had a "mandate" we broke down the numbers to show that their alleged call for a mandate didn't add up.  But even then, during the height of the House Republican era, there were 193 Democrats and 240 Republicans in the House. Now that we've had the 2012 election, starting in January 2013 there will be 195 Democrats (2 more than we have now) and 233 Republicans (7 fewer than we have now) in the House.  In other words, Republicans actually lost seats in the House.  Moreover, when we look at the total votes cast in the House election from coast to coast, there were 53,952,240 votes for Democratic House members compared to 53,402,643 votes for Republicans.  Stated differently, over half a million more Americans (549,597 to be exact) chose Democrats over Republicans in the House.

So how is this a "mandate" for the Republicans exactly?


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