"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Even I didn’t see mandate – but it was

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

MANDATE: noun (1) an official order or authorization. (2) the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to party or candidate that wins an election.

That word “mandate” has been popping up in the media since the re-election of President Obama. For a few days, I thought it was not accurate. Most people usually use it only when someone wins by a significant margin. Which Obama did not. But I – like them – was wrong. Except that I DID believe a mandate was given – not just this usual one so often misunderstood.

It would seem some of the ill-thought-through, conservative feedback I got from some readers – the ones telling me “there was no mandate” – was wrong, too. Note that nothing in the old dictionary says a mandate is anything more than just “an authority … regarded as given by the electorate to party or candidate that wins an election.” Doesn’t say “overwhelming” or “lop-sided” or anything else. Just “wins.”

So, seems there was a “mandate” after all. While I’ve not used that word to describe last week’s Obama victory – yet – I do so now. Maybe two or three of ‘em. Not just using the dictionary definition as evidence but because of other votes. For instance, the ones that totaled 332. The old electoral college. The place where 270 wins the pot. That’s the one real political pros keep their eyes on.
To knowledgeable folks, that 332 Obama win is more important than the raw vote total of about 120 million for both candidates and an Obama final victory margin of about three million. A “mandate” the dictionary says. And more.

Pros know the electoral vote is more important when it comes to counting. That’s because they look to see WHERE those votes came from. In Obama’s case, the majority came from large states with large populations and – more important to the pols – large elected political delegations. You can rack up half a dozen small states – Idaho, Montana, Utah, Kansas and North and South Dakota for example – and not equal one Florida or one Ohio or one California. Romney got more states than Obama. And lost.

So, in the political business, Obama got a mandate in the electoral college, too. When you throw in a net Senate pickup of three seats and half a dozen or so in the House, professional nose counters see a tide beginning to turn with a large off-year election only two years hence. Got to get out front.

Now comes a new national poll with even more bad news for Speaker Boehner and that caucus he can’t control. ‘Cause it adds more pressure to that small, well-defined tidal movement now turning against them. When voters were asked – days after the election -who’d be to blame if Congress and the President can’t solve the debt ceiling and sequestration issues, 53% said House Republicans – 29% the President – about 10% to both.

If you’re sitting in one of those House GOP seats – or one in that third of the Senate – all up for election in two years, you don’t want to be seen by more than half the electorate as continuing gridlock or being obstructionist. Those poll results – just that outcome – really amount to “mandate” number three. The answer for who’d be held to blame – “Republicans.” Period.

Republican talking heads, wingnuts and foil-hatters have begun the circular firing squad over their nationwide swat down at the polls. The closed ideological loop of Faux News, Limbaugh, Beck, the oft-disgraced Morris, O’Reilly, Rove and others of their ilk – with their skewed political polling – provided all the phony B.S. and other-worldly political disinformation the rapt audience of single-minded followers could swallow. And swallow they did. Even Romney and Ryan gobbled it up. Ryan said after the election, “Our internal polls sure showed much different information than the outcome.”

Well, duh? When everyone involved is in a deliberate “disinformation” circle, what other outcome would you expect?
Then there was Romney’s completely ridiculous “Obama gave them gifts” craziness. Another ignorant shot at Latinos and black Americans – the same ones Republicans want to attract. Wonder how he squares that with Obama wins in Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire – hardly large minority areas. Seems to me his 47% became 52% and kicked his ass. Nothing more than that, Sir.

The national Republican Party will not be much different before the next election. Oh, a few in Congress may stop their suicidal, ideological idiocy.

They’ve read the winds and will become “shape shifters.” Some always survive that way. But the dedicated T-P types won’t budge even though a few of their number bit the dust this time and several came awfully close to being unemployed. Their desire for purity is not unlike the British Redcoats of Revolutionary War times who lined up and walked across open fields into the guns of the American army. To what end?

Already Sen. Paul is talking of running for president in 2016. The intellectually-vacant Rep. Gohmert of Texas this week nominated Newt Gingrich – who resigned from the House in disgrace many years ago – for new Speaker of the House. Of course, GOP members were voting a full week AFTER our 2012 election was over. Our own neighborhood idiot who’s been twice rejected in Oregon’s Fourth District has promised to be back in two years. More will show up.

And they’ll continue to come back like Capistrano swallows because the people who support them have control of the national – and in some cases local – party nominating process. Otherwise intelligent rank and file Republicans may not want the madness to continue. But they don’t run the party. Until they take it back, they’ll be just as victimized as the rest of us. And that won’t happen anytime soon because the crazies control the machinery to do so.

The fastest growing political group – based on 2012 registrations and identified voters where required – is “Independent.” Because we under that banner can’t vote in most nominating primary elections – and because the GOP is on a kamikaze mission to the far right – you may see a national group try to formalize “Independent” and use that as a base to go for that third party we often talk of. Given exit polling and those other statistics cited, it looks like that’s one direction things could go. ‘Course they’d probably have to change the name.

All that is speculation, of course. But this much we do know. The President got a mandate – maybe two – maybe three. He has more control of events now than a month ago – congressional Republicans less. He’s not able to run for a third term. So, if he’s to build a legacy, as presidents are wont to do, he’s in a fine position to build a good one.

For those who want to dispute all this, just keep watching your Faux News. Fiction that goes your way is much easier to accept than facts that don’t.

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