The AP reports that John Kerry is still all fired up. (Isn’t this odd? It seems as if he’s almost giddy for having lost. Well, at least we are.) Kerry said,
We need to be unified and we have a very clear agenda. I’m going to be fighting for that agenda with all my energy and all the passion that I brought to the campaign.
Well, it’s good to know that they finally have a clear agenda. I wonder where they got one; certainly not from the incoherent Kerry campaign, and certainly not from the Dem reaction to the election so far, unless, of course, they mean just more Bush-bashing. It’s also gratifying to know that Kerry will bring the same passion to this mysterious agenda that he brought to the campaign. Which is to say, very little. But it wouldn’t be fair to criticize a robot for his dearth of emotion, so I won’t go there.
But Kerry seems to be arguing for a reverse mandate. Why not? His party co opted the word “is.” Why shouldn’t they be able to completely transform “mandate,” as well. They’ve already got a good start. But now Kerry, according to his spokesman David Wade, is saying:
There is a mandate for unity in the country, and that there are 54 million Americans whose voices deserve to be heard as we move forward as a party.
(Kerry must be angry at a couple million of his voters, since he received 55.9 million).
But seriously, what does “a mandate for unity” mean? Think about it. What about last week’s election results is any different from those of any other election in terms of “a mandate for unity?” That is, from what tea leaves does Kerry divine that these election results demand unity?
In every election, once you total up all the votes for all the candidates, you get 100% of the total votes cast. And 100% means unity. Surely that’s not what he means. Or is he saying that close elections carry a mandate of unity? How ridiculous. Elections are not about unity. They are about deciding which candidate and party gets to be in charge and promote its own agenda. I do not mean to imply that the losing party also loses its voice. To the contrary, it is entitled to exactly the amount of power the electorate bestowed upon it, which in our system is always considerable. (And after elections, we should be unified in the sense that each party respects the rule of law and the will of the majority: the constitutional authority of the victors.)
While Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches, the Dems have a very strong minority in both houses of Congress and Republicans don’t have a veto-proof majority. You don’t need a civics lesson to understand that Dems still wield considerable power.
But Democrats are finding innovative ways to justify different interpretations of their defeat. What Kerry and other Democrats seem to be saying is that President Bush and the Republican majorities in Congress are not entitled to the full extent of their constitutionally acquired power. They must voluntarily relinquish to Democrats sufficient power to approximate the percentage of votes the Democrats received. But that’s absurd.
While individual congressional elections are “winner take all,” the Congress, collectively, is still split with the GOP having a significant majority in both houses. The Democrats already have the percentage of power they gained in the election. Yet are we to assume they expect the Republicans to give them more, as if they won more than they did? This is nonsense and unprecedented. But so many nonsensical ideas become mainstream among liberals that they need to be addressed before they reach full flower.
The presidential race was a “winner take all” affair. The President is not required to and must not defer to Democrats on policy simply because they received 48% of the vote. He is not limited to trying to impose only 51% of his agenda. This is almost laughable, but what else could Kerry mean by a mandate for unity? He surely means that Republicans must tack far enough left, through a process of compromising and diluting their agenda, that their policy proposals will meet with the approval of Democrats, sufficient to bring unity.
Even if this were not absurd in theory, it would be in practice, given the pugnaciousness of the Democratic Party. If President Bush were to meet them halfway — literally — they’d spit in his face, call him a tyrant, a dictator and a close-minded ogre, and demand that he come the other 50% to fully embrace their agenda. Just look at the history of the education bill and Senator Kennedy.
Anyone naive enough to believe that this crop of Democrats will ever work for unity — as opposed to the imposition of their full-blown agenda — is too naive to be analyzing politics. But Dems are crafty, brazen, and persistent. They’ll keep pushing this cockeyed idea as long and far as reasonable people let them. But neither President Bush nor the GOP should allow the Dems to bully them into softening their agenda. And, given the president’s statements so far, I don’t think we have too much to worry about here.
In the meantime, it will be fun to watch Kerry as he fantasizes further and jockeys and positions himself for a run in 2008. The intramural squabbles between him, Edwards, and Hillary — and any others who join the mix — should be fascinating to behold.