Pick Wayne's Brain

November 8, 2014

That Was No Mandate

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:49 AM

If you’ve been paying any attention to right wing media this week (and I hope for your sake you’re well paid to do so), you’ve been hearing the “M”-word thrown around a lot – “Mandate.” Conservatives running the gamut from Hannity to Ingraham to Limbaugh to Rove (okay, maybe that’s not the whole gamut; maybe it’s just B-flat to C-flat) have been claiming that the Republican gains in Congress Tuesday night represent a mandate to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “the reason so many people have health insurance when they couldn’t get it before, or, “Obamacare” for short.) Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they’ve been telling a lot of lies to make their point.

Writing an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (I won’t link to it since it’s subscription, but the MMFA article has one), Karl Rove claims that the results proved Americans’ “disgust with a six-year liberal experiment.” Yet just one week before, the very same publication ran a story saying the ACA was not a major issue with voters, and that only eight percent of voters rated it the most important issue factoring into their vote. Laura Ingraham just flat out said the election results indicates that the country hates Obamacare, wants to repeal it and replace it with something else. Again, this is an opinion not supported by the facts. A recent Rasmussen poll indicated only 39% support for repealing the ACA, and the last time I looked, 39% was less than half. Sean Hannity also reached the delusion that the election proved Americans hate the ACA (conservative Americans do, but they hate everything, don’t they?), and suggested that even if Obama vetoes a bill to repeal the ACA, they should try to go after it piecemeal, as if the president won’t notice provisions in all these bills reaching his desk trying to roll back some of his signature legislation. (Logic doesn’t work on Hannity, so he assumes it doesn’t work on anybody else, either.) And Rush Limbaugh tried to claim that opposition to Obama’s policies was the will of the people and that, “There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday.” Actually, Rush, there’s the little-mentioned matter of severe Gerrymandering on the part of the Republicans. If not for that, they could not have won control of the House this decade. It is, in fact, the single biggest reason we need to get Liberals and Progressives to get out and vote every single year, ESPECIALLY in their statewide elections. We need to turn state legislatures blue before the 2020 census so they can redraw the districts in a way that better reflects the will of the people in those districts. Only about 36% of the electorate turned out to vote this year, and low voter turnout almost always favors Republicans.

And that’s another reason this was no mandate. Less than 40% of the nation showed up to vote. You cannot claim that these 40% spoke for the entire nation, or that the results of their votes reflect some misguided notion that Americans want Republican policies to govern. They don’t. If anything, conservative policies (and the candidates that support them) are more of a turnoff to voters than liberal ones. Two states and the District of Columbia put pot legalization on the ballot and it won in all three. Californians passed sentencing reform for non-violent low-level crimes. New Jersey voters passed bail reform, to make sure only the dangerous ones are held on bail pending trial. And voters in Washington “both approved a measure to close a loophole in firearms background checks, and rejected a competing ballot initiative that would have narrowed the state’s gun laws.” These are not policies that a Conservative Congress would support, and it’s difficult to predict how they’ll pass legislation preserving the will of the people in those states, given how much Conservatives say they favor States’ Rights. It will also be interesting to see how a Republican-controlled Congress deals with the will of the voters in the nation’s capital who want to legalize pot given that the Constitution grants the Congress sole legislative authority over the District. Especially since our once pot-smoking president can veto any attempt by the GOP to thwart the People. Assuming he’s not too drunk to do it. I know I’d start drinking after a night like that if I were him.

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