As soon as
Fox commentators began throwing temper tantrums the networks and news outlets starting calling the presidential race for Obama last night, Republicans jumped in to assure us that while he may have won, he certainly shouldn’t take this as a sign that people wanted to him to win, or anything. Don’t get carried away and believe that Americans like you, or want you as the president, or in any way endorse any single thing you’ve done or plan to do. This isn’t a mandate, Barack. Gosh.
“Obama won, but he’s got no mandate,” said Charles Krauthammer. That may be the dumbest thing I’ve seen all day. And I read Trump’s tweets.
— Touré (@Toure) November 7, 2012
Some pointed out that winning both the electoral and popular vote does, in fact, signal a mandate.
Since Obama won almost all the swing states, and we somehow elected them our deciders, shouldn’t that be considered a mandate?
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) November 7, 2012
And some rightfully called attention to the fact that the more times you say “mandate” out loud, the less sure you are of the definition.
Everyone is wondering if Obama got a mandate. If he wants one, he should just ask Biden to a movie or something.
— Justin Robinson (@JustinSRobinson) November 7, 2012
Which brings us to the question, what is a mandate, and does Obama have one? I prefer not to answer that question, because I’m really tired of the word mandate. Instead, let’s just all agree that despite whatever grumblings Republicans will put forth in the next days/weeks/months, Obama won the election, and shockingly, that’s the only thing he needs in order to, you know, be the president. (I won’t even go into all the Democratic, progressive candidates who won their Senate races, or the marriage equality measures that passed in three states, or the legalization of marijuana, or the fact that voters have affirmed that “legitimate rape” is not a thing.)
If we’re going to get all into-the-weeds about it, the last true mandate given to a president, it could be argued, was to President Reagan over Walter Mondale in 1984, when the incumbent Republican beat his challenger with 58.8 percent of the popular vote. Bush the First won his election with 53.4 percent of the popular vote, then Clinton won with 43 percent and then again with 49.2 percent. And THEN, Gore won the popular vote with 48.4 percent, and Bush STILL got to be president with only 47.9 (one might call that a nega-mandate). He nudged the needle a bit to win 50.7 percent to Kerry’s 48.3 percent in 2004, which inspired many a Republican pundit to declare that Bush had scored a mandate at the time. Obama won his first election with 52.9 percent, and according to Nate Silver, Chief Numerical Witch of the U.S.A., has received 50.8 percent of the popular vote, to Mitt Romney’s 48.3, in yesterday’s election.
Numbers! Do they make a mandate? I don’t know! The fact is, Obama won re-election and will now proceed to carry out his agenda. You can like that or not like it, but arguing about a mandate doesn’t change that fact. Now can we please stop talking about it and let the man go back to leading the country? If he needs it, he can totally have my mandate, if I ever find it under this mess of papers on my desk.
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