There’s no such thing as a ‘mandate’
November 8, 2012 5 Comments
Since this is something the losing party always tries to console themselves with, this seems as good a time as any for me to point out that there’s no such thing as a ‘mandate’. You will fail to find this word in the Constitution. There is simply no provision for giving a President extra special powers if he wins the Presidency in a certain way. In other words: sorry righties, President Obama has just as many powers as the most ‘mandate’-a-licious President you can think of. He has just as many powers as if he had won all the voting by 99-1 ratios. That is how it works.
Of course, having an opposition party control some, or a house, or both houses of Congress can increasingly restrain a President from doing what he wants to do in various ways. Similar things could be said about the permanent bureaucracy, the military, etc. But these are entirely functions of the makeup of those other bodies, and has nothing to do with how many votes the President himself got.
There’s just no such thing as a ‘mandate’.
From the article, there does appear to be acknowledgement of this fact:
“The mandate is a myth,” said John Altman, associate professor of political science at York College of Pennsylvania. “But even if there was such a thing as a mandate, this clearly isn’t an election that would produce one.”
But wait what? The thing is a myth – doesn’t exist – but ‘if there was such a thing’ this election wouldn’t have produced one? This is the opposite of the correct lesson.
The correct lesson is that since the mandate is a myth, then surpassing the single threshold of winning the Presidency gives one just as much power/authority as doing so in (what someone suggests is a) mandatey fashion. Or I guess you could say that ‘if there was such a thing’, President Obama would have it.
There is simply no consolation to be had for righties in running around mumbling Obama ‘doesn’t have a mandate’. He has the Presidency. That’s enough.