Nobody's Going To Win a "Mandate" for Change

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 5 2012 4:04 PM

Nobody's Going To Win a "Mandate" for Change

A great Ron Brownstein column on the demographic questions hanging over the presidential race ends with a lame sixth question: "Can anyone win a mandate to govern?"

The answer is "no." A mandate is not a real thing, so there's nothing a candidate can do—up to and including a Democrat carrying North Carolina and Indiana—to win one. Probably the best way to think of a mandate is as a historical artifact of the poorly sorted congressional politics of yore. Politicians in that framework were cross-pressured between partisan and ideological loyalties. A president with a "mandate"—think Ronald Reagan in 1981 or Lyndon Johnson in 1965—could unify the ideological factions within his own party while fracturing the other side's coalition. Modern politics just doesn't work like that. Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Mark Kirk all vote a more reliably conservative line than Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin, or Claire McCaskill. Different politicians disagree with each other about different things, but the parties are basically coherent ideological teams. And although there may be compromises to be forged, there are no mandates to be won.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.