Cheney, Social Security, and Mandates

March 9, 2005

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Vice President Cheney, in an interview, said that he believes that there is a mandate for personal retirement accounts in Social Security. Obviously, Cheney didn’t bring it up, but was responding to a question.

Following the election, I wrote quite a bit about mandates. The idea has become silly.

The bottom line, though, concerning mandates and private accounts for Social Security is that President Bush campaigned on this issue and he won. Therefore, if you insist on talking about mandates, he can claim a mandate to press forward on this issue. But who cares about mandates? That’s just another roadblock the Dems are attempting to place in his way.

The winner of an election is entitled to press forward with any issue he wants to, even if he didn’t campaign on it. And the opposition is free to oppose him on it, even if they lost, having campaigned against it. The remedy for ill-considered policies, or promoting (or opposing) policies out of step with the electorate is that you can lose your re-election bid. Short of that, you have every right and authority to press forward.

Now if you promised to do one thing and do another, that’s another issue — though that certainly doesn’t apply in this case. But even then, the remedy is to use the politician’s campaign promise against him. He still has the constitutional, if not moral authority to press forward with whatever agenda he pleases. And if he can convince a majority, he’ll implement his agenda. Otherwise, not. Beyond that, what’s the point of incessantly talking about mandates?