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December 12, 2012 1:10 PM Obama’s Mandate Redux

By Ed Kilgore

Much of the immediate post-election spin coming from Republicans involved denying the president’s win gave him any sort of “mandate” to do any of the things he campaigned on. He won because of superior tactics, or Romney’s errors, or turning out “base” votes via pandering and “gifts,” or because this or that happened or didn’t happen in the last few days. Besides, said Republicans, they had their own mandate from maintaining control of the House (which conveniently ignores the fact that they lost the national popular vote in House races), so any way you sliced it, Obama had to negotiate with Republicans as equals.

Nobody much bothered to ask Americans what they thought about the talk of mandates, until the release of a new national Bloomberg poll which precisely asked them just that. And lo and behold:

President Barack Obama won the public argument over taxes so decisively that almost half of Republicans now say he has an election mandate to raise rates on the rich.
Majorities of about 2-to-1 also read the election results as an endorsement of Obama’s pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-10.

46% of respondents (with 46% opposing the proposition) even said Obama had a mandate to “take action to address climate change,” that great unmentionable during most of the 2012 cycle.

Now nobody’s required to support a policy initiative just because Americans support it or even think the president should have the opportunity to implement it. But at a very minimum, the silly talk that in re-electing Barack Obama Americans weren’t making judgments about the two parties’ agendas, or were actually saying the winners should take half-a-loaf—or less than half-a-loaf—compromises from the losers, needs to go away for good.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Josef K on December 12, 2012 1:27 PM:

    But at a very minimum, the silly talk that in re-electing Barack Obama Americans weren’t making judgments about the two parties’ agendas, or were actually saying the winners should take half-a-loaf—or less than half-a-loaf—compromises from the losers, needs to go away for good.

    In a rational world, yes, I agree. Unfortunately that would require shipping 99% of registered GOP voters and officeholders off-planet and dropping them into the sub-surface ocean of Europa.

    As it is, what do they seriously have left to offer by way of policy except denying the President's legitimacy? Seriously?

  • T2 on December 12, 2012 1:40 PM:

    Obama ran on specifics and (for the most part) truths or provable ideas,
    Romny ran on vague generalities (except lower taxes for Rich) and easily provable lies.
    Obama won, pretty handily. He gets the prizes.

  • jjm on December 12, 2012 1:59 PM:

    The election's results could not have been clearer. Obama put all the issues, but especially raising taxes on the wealthy into precise focus.

    But since when has the GOP honored truth, justice or the American way? Since when has the GOP honored clarity and intellect?

    They cannot stand any move that doesn't involve people being convinced to vote against their own interests.

  • c u n d gulag on December 12, 2012 2:31 PM:

    Well, if Bush could act like he had a mandate even AFTER he lost the popular vote in 2000, and after he barely won in 2004, I think the first President since Eisenhower to win two elections at over 51%, should indicate even to the drooling idiots, and Conservatives (but I repeat myself) among us, that the President and Democrats should be allowed to lead.

    Especially after Republicans "leadership" got us into the messes we're in to this day.

    Hint to Conservatives:
    You ain't the solution. YOU'RE THE FECKIN' PROBLEM!!!

  • Mitch on December 12, 2012 2:35 PM:

    This all might matter if the GOP was committed to democratic representation, but they are not. They Republican Party only cares about their ideology—by ideology I mean money and power for plutocrats and corporations. They are as immune to the will of the people as their are immune to logic, facts, reason and mathematics.

    Indeed "will of the people" is probably too socialistic for the GOP to ever support; democracy is too much like communism for the stalwart "guardians of conservatism" in America.

  • bobatkinson on December 12, 2012 2:54 PM:

    Right now at MSNBC homepage they have the results of their new poll showing that American's approve of a "balanced" approach of equal tax increases and cuts to SS and Medicare. Notice that there is no mention once again of the Defense Dept. cuts called for in the Sequestration, just the cuts to Social Insurance programs. Including SS in the cuts is just a continuation of the drive by the Peterson Institute and I say damn the mainstream/corporate media for not only their false equivalency reporting but especially for their false choice polling that panders to the plutocrats ongoing propaganda geared to destroying SS and privatizing Medicare.

  • bdop4 on December 12, 2012 3:00 PM:

    It's going to take some respected media figure or politician to really get into the grill of conservative leadership and totally dismantle the talking points they put out. Not in a separate segment, but right there and then, in their face, and make them respond.

    A real rhetorical beat down.