No Mandate

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

As Ron Fournier of the National Journal wrote on Election Day, "Barack Obama won a second term but no mandate. Thanks in part to his own small-bore and brutish campaign, victory guarantees the president nothing more than the headache of building consensus in a gridlocked capital on behalf of a polarized public."

In Election 2012, American voters were deeply divided by race, gender, religious sensitivities and party affiliation.

Couple those divisions with Obama’s narrow popular vote victory and the fact that President Obama has never attempted to build consensus in Washington, and his task becomes impossible. Obama would be foolish to assume a mandate to continue transforming America into a bankrupt European-style, soft-socialist welfare state.

During the campaign, only Gov. Mitt Romney addressed hard economic truths, but, to avoid politically damaging errors, offered few solutions to a voting public hungry for them. Romney’s caution might have contributed to his loss. Still, Obama won a smaller percentage of the vote this time than in 2008. A re-elected president usually increases his winning popular vote margin. The close popular vote and exit polling interviews suggest that half of American voters view Obama as an incompetent, economically illiterate president whose first-term record is marked by the aftereffects of his unsuccessful policies: the stimulus, massive new debt, inflation, declining household incomes, persistent joblessness, high gas prices, hijacked health care and failed foreign policy.

In fact, a majority think America is on the wrong track. Nonetheless, Obama won. The difference in the election came from Obama’s most reliable base, a heavily invested, compliant mainstream media, which savaged Romney while crafting a narrative about Obama’s re-election inevitability and leaving unreported anything that didn’t fit it.

The media reported Obama’s greatest vulnerability, the lousy economy, more favorably than it did the far stronger economies of both Presidents Bush. Low-information voters who relied on traditional media for news, don’t know that, following his embarrassing first debate performance, Obama began hyping trivialities and exhibiting behavior normally unseen in confident incumbents — "Romnesia," bayonets, un-presidential peevishness, calling his opponent a "bullsh***er," and cringe-inducing ads comparing a vote for Obama with a girl’s first sexual experience.

Obama became nastier, more divisive, shrill and petty before, abandoning all presidential pretense, he shouted on camera to a campaign audience that voting was "the best revenge." For what? On whom?

In arguably the most biased media omission, CBS withheld footage of Obama’s Sept. 12 "60 Minutes" interview proving the president did not call Benghazi a terrorist attack. As Obama’s second term unfolds and problems such as Benghazi, massive debt and entitlement crises are finally "discovered," the mainstream media’s willful oversights will further erode its sagging credibility among a majority of Americans. Despite its successful pro-Obama campaign, the legacy media might ultimately become 2012’s biggest losers.

Thankfully, the GOP retained its large House majority. Gridlock might be the best scenario for the part of the American public who understands that centrism is a virtue taxpayers can no longer afford. If one political faction supports and another rejects additional spending and programs, compromise always favors some increase in both. At more than $16 trillion, America’s national debt already exceeds the nation’s annual gross domestic product, the market value of all final goods and services. Repaying it will burden generations of Americans, some as yet unborn.

Kevin Williamson, a National Review writer, said, "There is not much in this [election] to comfort conservatives. The lessons of Ohio are that Barack Obama is a skillful demagogue, that the ancients were wise to number envy among the deadly sins, and that offering Americans a check is a more fruitful political strategy than offering them the opportunity to take control of and responsibility for their own lives."

Enough damage has already been done. Americans should embrace gridlock. America needs problem-solvers, certainly, but, more than anything, the nation needs principled obstinacy among polite, but determined and responsible elected adults, not more expensive "centrism" from the irresponsible elements of its political class. Above all, disappointed Romney supporters must be as gracious in defeat as Democrats were in 2000 and 2004.