Democrats & Liberals Archives

What Mandate Are You Referring to?

Let us speak of mandates. Bill Clinton won the 1996 election by nine points, 1992 by almost six, and that was his worst. In 1993, the Democrat majority in congress was 258 to 176, a lead of 82 members. Republicans got their best lead ever right now: 30 members. As for Senate Majorities, they’ve never had it better in modern times than Fifty-Five We had two more that the last time we had a real majority!

However the Republicans have played it, the Republican Revolution has not gained the extensive power of the Democratic party.

How will things play out? It depends on America's patience. What does America's patience depend on? Pleasing moderates who lean conservative. Mostly, people who don't deify the GOP enough to be full conservatives, but have enough differences of opinion that they tend away from the Democrats.

These people, I would wager, are the basis for modern Republican power. There aren't enough conservatives to account for the majority the GOP has now, and the margin is small enough that even the partial removal of that influence could have devastating effects for the Republican majorities.

This is what I would argue against the notion of a permanent Republican majority from. There just isn't the kind of groundswell required for that present in the country. In fact, it seems moderates are getting somewhat annoyed the GOP.

Does this mean the Republican majority can't last? No. But the party's not doing itself favors by trying to move the country further right. For ten years, they've had to fight hard to keep and maintain majorities. They were lucky that 9/11 pushed the country towards it's "dependable" GOP defenders, and that Rove's power politics so successfully slimed the opposition. But even with that effort, the best they've done is seen in the numbers above.

The Republicans need to recognize that this country, while it leans to the right a little bit, still runs mostly to the center. If the opinions of judges and the actions of their elected and appointed officials clash too much with the views of the center, the center may tilt back the other way, and the Republicans cannot afford that.

But hey, it's up to them whether they want to push their luck. This country was built on the ability of rival factions to counterbalance the extremes of their opponents, and if the Republican want to persist in the belief of their everlasting power, they can discover the corrective power of democracy for themselves.

With a little help from their friends on the other side of the aisle, of course. I've already addressed that subject in The Politics of a Small World if folks who follow the Blue Column want to take a gander.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at July 20, 2005 8:25 PM