One day after Election Day, Republican members of Congress and right leaning pundits, were quickly out in front of cameras stating that Barack Obama's resounding victory over John McCain did not equate to a mandate for the newly minted President-elect.
It has been two weeks since America’s historic 2008 Presidential election. The final results were convincing on the presidential and Congressional levels. The election was an obvious big win for Democrats, with Barack Obama’s victory especially overwhelming. President-elect Obama won the election with the largest popular vote total for any Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. As the evening showed, it served as a referendum to change the manner in which the Republican Party has governed the country. This is clearly evidenced by the stunning turn of many states from partisan “red” to “blue,” and even more of them turning “purple.”
In 2004 President George W. Bush defeated his Democratic rival, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, in the general election winning a slim Electoral College margin of 286-251 votes. That was the smallest margin of victory in the Electoral College since challenger Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976. Senator Barack Obama garnered 365 electoral votes compared to 162 won by Senator John McCain.
Following President George W. Bush's 2004 victory, the conservative media rushed to declare that the election was a decisive mandate for Bush's agenda, and mainstream media outlets quickly followed their lead. Immediately after the election, Republican Congressional members and pundits started spinning the results. Before the outcome of the race in traditionally red North Carolina and Missouri's tally was known, the right began stating that President-elect Obama's victory did not constitute a mandate. I cannot fathom how the right does not agree that Barack Obama's blowout does not represent what George Bush's narrow victory did.
John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, who has been tasked to head the Obama transition, explained on Fox News that President-elect Barack Obama’s victory last week constituted a strong endorsement by the American people of a “progressive philosophy” and has given progressives a “real mandate for change.”
Two Republicans, Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia and Senator Mike Pence of Indiana, rebutted those statements later on the same program.
CANTOR: This was not some kind of realignment of the electorate, not some kind of shift toward some style of European social, big government type of philosophy.
PENCE: I don’t think this was a victory for a progressive, or a liberal victory, I think this was a victory for Barack Obama.
The Republicans want you to believe the election was not a repudiation of all things conservative or Republican. While that may be true, it was however, clearly a repudiation of the manner in which the Republicans handled running the government over the last eight years. Though the results of November 4 are short of a mandate for Barack Obama to govern at the extreme left, along the lines of House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, the election is a mandate for cooperation and bipartisanship. The electorate voted for the hope of a Washington that functions for the good of the American people.
Speaker Pelosi has already stated that she expects Barack to govern from the middle, and she seems intent on helping him succeed. Furthermore, I do not think that the Democrats are reckless enough to throw away the gift the American people have handed them. I don’t think Americans should not expect to see any extreme fissures within Democratic Party in the short or medium term. As was the case with the Obama campaign, discipline will be strongly enforced, and it is my belief that the Democrats will likely proceed prudently.