Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who Has The Mandate?

Who Has The Mandate?Most of the Republicans who spoke on Wednesday about their recent victories in the House and the Senate, all insisted: The American people gave them a mandate. John Boehner was so moved by it, that he cried.

Pollsters, those who ask the questions and crunch the numbers, believed that the "whipping" would be greater. There's no denying the beating that Democrats took in the House--but, in the Senate, they survived. They weaker now, but they survived. There was a 10% likelihood that they wouldn't. Many pundits felt that the Senate, as well as the House, would fall to the Republicans. They were wrong. To be sure, Democrats received a spanking in the Senate but clearly not a whipping.

Their defeat is easily explained: Many Democrats who voted in the 2008 election sat out this time. This clearly made the difference. They were young, and they were mostly minority. You might reason then: It wasn't the Republicans or the Tea Party who defeated Obama and the Democrats, it was their base. It's hard to say that the low turn out for this group was all about the economy, and not about the inability of Democrats to pursue a progressive agenda, or change how the system works. In the days ahead, Republicans will characterize their victory as a referendum on Obama, on his agenda, and on Democrats generally.

Once again, I think pundits are misreading the tea leaves: They're insisting that Republicans will have to abandon their obstructionist tactics and actually do something. "Surely the Republicans will cooperate now. Surely they want a record on which to run in 2012." I admit: I didn't anticipate the American people falling for this tactic. But now, I'm beginning to take Republicans at their word, whether they're Tea Party Republicans are old-brand Republicans. Early on, these old-brands made clear their position: They said, unequivocally, that they wanted Obama to fail, and, to date, they're making good on their words. With their new congress, Republicans are now threatening the unthinkable, not to compromise, and to make Obama a one-term president.

If I wasn't a believer before, I am now. A true believer. Why should Republicans abandon what has been working for them? Rand Paul, Tea Party candidate, and now Senator-elect, has put Republicans on notice. In his victory speech, he said, essentially, the Tea Party will take no prisoners, and they won't surrender. One thing is clear: It's the Tea Party that feels it has a mandate from the people, and not the whole of the Republican Party. Rand Paul has thrown down the gauntlet. For the Republican establishment the message is unambiguous: The Tea Party is now in charge. It's Tea Time. You'll either do it our way, or we'll show you the highway.

What we have, then, is a prescription for gridlock. The Tea Party, to keep its promises, will have to do something to give the appearance of reducing the size of government. For one, they will attempt to repeal health-care reform, which will, of course, fail. For two, they will attempt to whittle away at the size of the Federal government. Some Tea Party folk have actually gone so far as to call for the abolishing of the Education Department and the EPA. Were this to pass, it would make the Koch brothers happy, as well as some other wanna-be polluters. Republicans may want this, too, but they're not under any pressure to deliver. Expect some infighting on these issues.

Here's my prediction: The Republican Party will soon be obsolete. It will be replaced by the Tea Party. The Tea Party will be the Republican Party on steroids--more intransigent, more conservative, more aggressive, and less likely to reach across the aisle, if at all. Already the Tea Party has made significant inroads--to be followed by one incursion after the other, until they've replaced the Republican establishment.

Before the curtains were drawn on the Democrats, Obama managed to pass two key pieces of legislation (health-care reform, and wall street reform). Mid-term elections, traditionally, present incumbent parties a real challenge to hold seats in either house, regardless of party. It explains one of the reasons for the much-criticized haste to pass legislation before the mid-term, and the reason Obama and the Democrats didn't tackle other major legislation, such as immigration reform (which wasn't popular anyway with the electorate), and is now, after the recent Republican victories, on indefinite hold.

I firmly believe that the reason that jobs weren't pursued with all the vigor that the president and the congress could muster was the perception that the financial sector needed rescuing first to avoid a depression. They may have believed, too, that the much-lauded stimulus bill (which economist agreed was too small) would accomplish that task--but job losses came faster than anticipated, and the stimulus managed only to keep the losses from becoming a tsunami, merely replacing jobs that were being lost, rather than creating new ones.

To make matters worse: Votes passed in the Democrat-majority House were in-boxed in the Senate--because, it was explained, the votes necessary for passage didn't exist. The Democrat caucus gave Democrats 60 votes to defeat filibusterers in the Senate, but "blue-dog democrats (Republicans in my book)," and moderates, may have kept many of these bills from going forward, especially with that nasty mid-term election on the horizon. As an aside: Blue Dogs were unseated in the recent race with a vengeance, twenty-four in all.

Here's a thought: Should progressives start their own movement within the Democrat Party to move it more to the Left? I say: Why not? The country can't be more polarized than it is now. This would be one way to exact change (to assure accountability, maintain transparency, and take the money out of politics) without armed conflict, that second-amendment remedy, once suggested by Tea Party candidate, now defeated, Sharron Angle.

Undeservedly, Obama and the Democrats were stand-ins on Tuesday for Bush and the Republicans. Democrats took the beating that should have gone to Republicans. You can say that the previous mid-term elections and Obama's rise to the presidency was payback for what the Republicans did during their tenure, but, in my view, it wasn't enough. I can recount several things, from the two wars in which we're stilled mired--not so much in Iraq as in Afghanistan--to the economic woes this country still faces, all having their genesis under Bush. So to see Republicans rewarded for their failings is the ultimate slap in the face to Democrats. It further crystallizes my belief that the electorate still doesn't get it.

Will Obama abandon his liberal agenda, move closer to the center, and lean Right? It's no secret that the country is more conservative than liberal, but this hasn't always translated into political capital for Republicans, who, this time around, garnered more of the independent votes than did Democrats.

Rush Limbaugh, the oracle of the Right, states it something like this: "Where is there room for any compromise with Marxism, or socialism, or liberalism? Where is there compromise with evil."

Bullying is in. Issuing threats is in. Hard-line resistance is in. Statesmanship is out. Compromise is out. Working together is out. The Democrats are in a brawl, a bar fight, and they still want to characterize it as a misunderstanding. They say: The Republicans down deep want to work with us. They just don't know it yet.

Unless Republicans are in power, they will hold this nation and its economy hostage. It's clear, at least to me, that what they're after is a one-party nation, where they control both houses of congress and the presidency in perpetuity. We have moved into an era of one-party politics, where the Republican opposition party is just that--in complete opposition to any efforts to reach across the aisle to advance legislation, unless it initiates the legislation, unless it shapes the legislation without interference or input from the opposing party.

If you doubt me, listen to their rhetoric: It's defiant, definite, and deliberate, the four "D's" of a destructive policy.


Greg L said...


I think there's a different electorate that comes out for the mid-term while Obama's base sat on their hands as you point out. I don't read much into their sitting on their hands except from their general disengagement from the mid-terms. In a way, the republicans talked their way into this one beginning with Obama's inauguration.

For sure, every divisive issue that they can will be raised as a cover for their inability to fix much of anything, so repeal of health reform will be the first thing on the agenda along with cuts in other spending that plays to their base while accomplishing absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, the 80%+ of spending that needs to be dealt with (entitlements and military spending) will not only go unaddressed, but will likely be expanded. Any issue that's means nothing will be in the forefront of the news. As I write this, there appears to be a firestorm brewing over Obama's trip to India costing $ 200 million a day emanating from the usual suspects. They'll continue to run the "campaign" they've been running up to 2012.

It's a hell of a thing when the first emotion that everyone has on the political situation in the country is to be pissed off. I'd have to agree that the republicans have contributed far more to that sort of environment than anyone--and deliberately so I might add. This is the state that they want everyone in so they can pull off some of the stuff they want to do and they'll be creating bogeymen every week to keep everyone in that frame of mind. They and their supporters actually want gridlock as they serves to keep passions high while the Fed robs us with by stealth and the economic goes to hell in a hand basket.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "This is the state that they want everyone in so they can pull off some of the stuff they want to do and they'll be creating bogeymen every week to keep everyone in that frame of mind."

Sleight of hand, and sleight of mind: As long as we're looking where they want us to look, we'll only see what they want us to see. Fox has perfected the technique, and so has Republicans. I know, I'm being redundant, now that they're one and the same.

If Repubs can turn the clock back on health-care, and wall street reforms, it will just be the beginning.

They wish to remove the impediments to anything that corporations and businesses wish to do: regulatory oversight, the EPA being their biggest target, and the thorn in their benefactors' side--the Koch brothers.

Regulatory oversight has been lax as it is, but it's the Republicans' aim to trim down the size of government even more, so that the "robber barons" (I think you call them that, right?), can continue to rob us blind while the Repubs pocket their rewards for selling out the American people.

With patriots like Repubs, al-Qaeda, by comparison, comes off as friends and family.

Al-Qaeda can only do so much harm, these Tea Party Republicans and their kin are so many Trojan horses, working within the walls of our government where the most damage can occur, passing legislation, repealing legislation, and setting policies that are inimical to the economic welfare of all, except the very rich.

I hear that Repubs have already notified Banks to ignore the Volker Rule. Banks will still be able to gamble with our money in good times and bad times times, and we, the American people, will be expected to bail them out if it all blows up.

Mr. I. M. BLACK said...


As I sit here trying to analyze the causes of the anger and displeasure of the past election, I began to wonder what is it that has caused so much dissatisfaction with this President. After all other presidents have accomplished much less under more favorable terms.

From my small vantage point I see a possible cause, "racism", that lingering stench that no longer lives in the back hills of the country, or guzzles beer like water, it now where's expensive suits, shirts, and ties, It has a tan, and gives the appearance of intelligence; it is seductive to those who are insecure and looking for reasons to justify their incompetence, ignorance or lack of willingness to find equitable solutions.
This new form of racism has clouded the minds of people across all racial barriers and because of overuse of the word, its meaning has been diminished. With that in mind racism no longer has to hide. It has now has become more overt as opposed to covert.
Americans, of all genders, races, and creeds have been seduced by the un-syncopated rhythms of misinformation, and stripped of the ability to critically think. We are now being led to an ocean full of salt water and convinced that it's fresh water and okay to drink.
As African-Americans, we have been blinded by a false sense of “my country tis, of thee," our eyes are clouded in such a way that what we think what we see is the promise of equality. Additionally, we are being guided being guided by those false prophets whose only interest is in themselves.
We have a President who strength comes from his intellect not his brawn, yet many would prefer to see him act in an angry fashion, rather than look at the fools whose anger and frustration will not allow them to recognize a black man for his intellectuality.
The gift of a true leader is in the ability compromise without alienating or completely favoring one side or the other.
While there are those who recognize the weight that is on the shoulders of this President, there are also those who want to add to the weight and not help with the lifting.
We, as a people should also remember that the disrespect that is being heaped on this President is unfortunately the same disrespect that has been heaped upon us.
As an historic event the Presidential election was a great accomplishment, but for African-Americans that's all it was an historic event; one of the many that have clouded our vision over the centuries.
Our local politicians are still the same old bunch that has failed to produce, for the communities they serve. There have been no earmarks that have benefited our communities.

Black Diaspora said...

@Mr. I. M. BLACK

Beautifully stated for its clarity and insight. Worthy of prominence on your own blog as an entry.

Obama's election lifted the scab off old wounds, reminding many that the dominance of the majority was slipping way--that the power that they once enjoyed by virtue of being white alone, would not always be theirs for the taking.

A new threat now loomed in the form of the other, this nation's growing minority--browns, blacks, and, on the religious front, and falsely accused, Muslims.

Many pundits are referring to it as "tribalism" rather than racism. But we both know the source of their discontent--it's the fear of becoming as irrelevant as blacks have historically been in the political and social arenas of this country.

Obama's ascension to the presidency was evidence of a clear and present danger that had to be addressed, and stopped.

As a charge, racism has been purposely diluted by disconnecting the charge from whites exclusively, and throwing it back into the face of those leveling the charge--primarily blacks.

It's not whites, they say, that are racists. It's those uppity blacks.

Because of the prevalence of racism in this country, I have never fully embraced "my country 'tis of thee." Not from lack of will, but because I refuse to embrace that which will not embrace me.

You're right: Obama is us magnified. Which explains the urgency to bring him down, lest all blacks aspire to be like him.

We have never received without having fought bitterly to have: Civil Rights legislation and other policies that have benefited blacks.

Unless we dirty our hands and force recognition we won't be recognized. That's why I've asked to consider a political movement--similar to the Tea Party--but within the Democrat Party, with a PAC and all that will agitate, and push for policies that benefit the black community.

Casting our votes isn't enough. We have to cast them for candidates that we handpick, who know our grievances and are willing to address them. At the local level it takes pretty much the same approach: Organizing to influence favorable outcomes.

If I've learned anything from our past it's this: Hoping that others will recognize our needs and meet them will result in our needs remaining unmet. Even rioting, as much as I deplore violence, has brought attention to our plight, and some effort to minimize the crush of racism, and the loss of opportunity for blacks that that mindset has engendered.

Ernesto said...

Scientific studies, i.e., polling of "all voters" versus "likely voters" showed that if this were a presidential election, rather than a mid-term election, Democrats would have beaten back all this hysteria. But hysterical people turn out to vote more than non-hysterical people. So we watch the acceleration of the demise of the lower classes in joblessness, hopelessness and debt.

I see a silver lining, however. The Big Collapse of this unsustainable system was coming anyway, as sure as sunset on a long summer day. A little faster demise, as long as it results in a sustainable, equitable system, might not be a bad thing. Unless it is made into a long, painful birth by those holding on desperately to the old order.

Black Diaspora said...


The debt ceiling meets the Tea Party. Now, we'll see what
the Tea Party movement is really made of. Will it stand on principles, or fall by the wayside--a victim of reality, and the stronger position of establishment Republicans, at least for now.

Hysteria won the day, this time. And there's been plenty of it to go around--from opposition to a mosque at ground zero, to support for the "papers-please law" in Arizona.

You can count on people holding on to the "old order." Those who are prospering from the "old order" will use fear as their primary weapon, and then resort to hate and bigotry if fear fails.

For example: They're now saying that liberals are using global warming to push liberal initiatives, which will destroy the economy, and with it much-needed jobs.

Mr. I. M. BLACK said...


Thanks for your quick response, as per your suggestion I have posted the entry on my blog.