More of that ‘Mandate’ Nonsense


I wrote a few weeks ago about the absurdity and inconsistency of all arguments about who does and doesn’t have a “mandate” after an election. It’s all a bunch of rhetorical nonsense that is easily manipulated to make the guy you support able to claim a “mandate” while denying it to those you don’t support. But here’s a particularly strained attempt to make such an argument:

An Open Letter to U.S. House and Senate Republicans

Dear Republican U.S. Representatives and Senators:

You are entering into a period of testing.

In the House, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest Republican majorities in the past 100 years. You have a mandate to fight for conservative principles that is arguably much broader than the one that narrowly reelected President Barack Obama claims to have for his leftist agenda.

Um. Why? The Republican majority got smaller, not bigger. And Democratic House candidates collectively got about a million more votes than Republican candidates, and from the same people who also reelected Obama and increased the Democratic margin in the Senate. All claims of mandates are silly, but this one is downright idiotic.

Comments

  1. says

    It’s a mandate because the voters demanded more conservative candidates, which is why they voted Democrat to protest the lack of conservatism in the Republicans?

  2. says

    In the House, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest Republican majorities in the past 100 years.

    Their powerful message won the day. That, and gerrymandering. Actually, mostly the gerrymandering.

  3. thalwen says

    A Democratic president was elected by a majority of the people. The Senate remained Democratic because the GOP ran guys so conservative that it scared the crap out of conservatives. The House stayed Republican due to heavy gerrymandering and yet, grand kooks like Bachman nearly lost and Alan West did lose his seat. Oh and 4 states voted in favour of marriage equality. Clearly a mandate for more conservative government.

  4. baal says

    More contra-factual reality positing. Can’t make a parallel society without it. I think I’ll forgo the rhetorical consideration of what could be more extreme a position than assertion of a fake reality (there isn’t that much space in that part of the noosphere).

  5. Jordan Genso says

    Does the fact that the Democratic Congressional candidates got more votes indicate that a better voting system would be something along the lines slate voting? Where each party in each state has a slate of candidates, and you then vote for the slate you prefer. The seats are then divided proportionally to the different slates.

    This would eliminate the gerrymandering problem. It would provide enormous opportunity for third-party candidates (since their slate would only need less than 10% of the vote in many states to secure a seat). And it would provide a better representation of the Congress that people actually want.

    The downside is that each member of Congress would have their entire state as their “district”, so the constituencies wouldn’t be as localized as they are now. But I think that is worth the tradeoff.

  6. matty1 says

    I prefer a single transferable vote system as it retains the ability of voters to choose individual candidates even between those from the same party. It would have much the same effect as slate voting in terms of proportional representation and improved representation of smaller parties but allow voters to express a preference for certain policies/people within a party as well.

  7. thisisaturingtest says

    The “narrowly-elected President Barack Obama” is kind of funny, too. Obviously, a popular vote margin of victory of around 4.5 million (4% of the vote) isn’t enough for Obama to claim a mandate; but, Obama won both his victories by larger margins, both popular and electoral, than Bush won either of his (in 2004, his popular vote margin was only about 3 million, or around 2.4%- and this was with the advantage of a decent economy and a war that wasn’t yet broady unpopular to be commander-in-chief of; and I’m sure we all remember what his margin of “victory” in the popular vote in 2000 was); and yet, these same people had no problem in claiming a mandate for Bush both times.

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