Being in political science and watching Election Night coverage makes me feel how I imagine doctors must feel when they watch ER. The temptation to yell, "That's not how it works at all! This is ridiculous!" at the TV is occasionally overwhelming.
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In the end we have to remind ourselves that the viewing public doesn't care if what they are seeing is realistic or accurate, only that it is entertaining. They only care that House comes up with a mystery diagnosis or that Sam Waterston wins over the jury or that the barking pundits explain the election results in unfathomably simplistic terms that happen to coincide with our own beliefs.

Watching CNN's gaggle of idiots – and I do mean gaggle, as there were at least 15 of them rotating through an archipelago of tables while Anderson Cooper was forced to play ringmaster – "explain" the election last Tuesday was enough to drive me to drink. They were absolutely obsessed with thematic explanations and sweeping claims of mandates and referendums.
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A referendum on health care reform. On Obama. On government spending. A mandate for Change. For the Tea Party. For John Boehner. A sign of voters' anger. Or their fears. Or their desperation. Or their impatience. Basically they did what the media do best – vomit a dozen explanations at the camera and let viewers pick whichever they most prefer.

Of course this simple chart by political scientist John Sides provides a more satisfying explanation of the results than any lame (and inevitably inaccurate) attempt to read the minds of voters could:

So here's your explanation. Democratic House candidates in districts where Obama received less than 55% of the vote in 2008 were more likely than not to be defeated in 2010. In districts in which Obama got more than 55% in 2008, Democratic candidates were almost unanimously safe this year. Why? Most likely because turnout fell 18-20% compared to 2008. Some people who showed up just to vote for Obama did not show up again, and some people who voted for him decided to vote Republican this time. How hard is that to explain?

Oh, I forgot. We need a "mandate" or some dreck about voters "sending a message to Washington.
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" I am reminded of my mentor who once said that elections are to Americans what the Oracles were to the ancient Greeks; everyone agreed that the Oracle was the voice of a god, but only some admitted that its messages were not as intelligible as might be desired. Rather than admitting that we don't really know what was on the minds of the 100,000,000 people who voted or sticking to an analysis of the numbers, our brave media insist that they alone possess the power to read the Oracle clearly.

Personally, I believe that the argument in Sides' data is an adequate explanation of the outcome inasmuch as one is necessary. But for those who need the grand explanation, the sweeping conclusions drawn from limited data, the themes that allow us to boil elections down to slogans, I humbly submit the following. The 2010 midterm elections were a mandate for the new GOP sorta-but-not-really majority in Washington. The American voter has clearly demanded:

1. Social Security reform that guarantees my current level of benefits, alters someone else's, and cuts everyone's Social Security taxes to boot.

2. A world-class national infrastructure that can be built and maintained without tax dollars.

3. A balanced budget that doesn't sacrifice any of the government programs – especially the sacred military-industrial complex and the various old age benefits – that we like.

4. Clean air without pollution controls, clean water with a neutered and underfunded EPA, and businesses that do socially responsible things without any regulation whatsoever.

5. Consumer goods at Made in China prices that create high-paying jobs in America.

6. Giant trucks and SUVs that drive like Formula One race cars, look cool, fit into small parking spaces, cost under $18,000, and get the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius.

7. Complete freedom and complete security at the same time.

8. An America that acts like a swaggering, sociopathic asshole on the global stage yet is beloved by all the nations of the world.

9. Wars against every enemy, real or imagined, all of the time, with no U.S. casualties and no effect on the budget.

10. Incredibly rich and rewarding professional lives while supporting our employers' right to do whatever they want to us without recourse.

11. A vibrant, consumption-based U.S. economy with good jobs for anyone willing to look for one resulting from free trade policies that encourage money and capital flows to cheap labor markets.

12. A highly educated workforce produced by a school system that requires no tax dollars to achieve excellence, students who have no interest in learning, and a virulently anti-intellectual society.

13. Closed borders and an endless supply of cheap labor to keep prices low.

14. To buy whatever we want irrespective of what we can afford while maintaining the drumbeat of personal responsibility.

15. Health care that is cheap, superior, and readily available to me without the danger of the same being enjoyed by anyone I deem undeserving.

It couldn't be any clearer: we want a government that will resolve every problem we currently face with solutions that require no effort, no sacrifices, and no money. And I have no doubt that we have elected a group of people brave enough to promise exactly that.
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105 thoughts on “THE MANDATE”

  • from the lttle I know about political science I think your analysis is the best I've seen so far. Your precis of what the American voter wanted was funny because it was true

  • So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth [government]… that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots?

    And you should win things by watching.

  • Ed, once again, you have nailed it. Who doesn't want everything they ever hoped for for free!

    I'm not sure what it will take to get people to realize that you actuall have to invest in your country to have it continue to succeed. No one wants to sacrifice anything but is perfectly willing to throw their underperforming neighbor under the bus without realizing that he is, indeed, the bus driver.

    I had a great discusson with some actual working people thi sweekend who, whole smart, are not interested in politics particularly, but who vote in every election. After a brief poll, they disappointed me immensly in reject ing an income tax on their rich clients, mandating a 66A% majority on the legislature to pass new taxes, and even declining to fund energy efficiency plans for schools.

    I weep whenIo consider just how lttle information people seek out before theyh vote. I have vowed to host a giant election party about a week propr to the 2012 election in which issues are raised, discussed, and reasoned bufore he first cocktail is served. This used to be solved by the caucus system but that is mostly dead in this country.

    Who knows, maybe the media saturation will drive my compatriates toward other sources of real news as it has done to me. For what it's worth, I've directed many people to your blog who thank me for the introdiction.


  • We've officially hit some kind of weird political humor singularity, where satire through goofy exaggeration and satire through prolonged, painful accuracy have melded together into some sort of terrible superhumor. All 15 of those 'demands' are both childishly ludicrous and completely real. In short: we're fucked.

    While we wait for the horsemen to ride in, though, I'm sure we could come up with more mandates than Ed's original 15. I'll throw my hat in after eau. America's Voters demand:

    17. A return to 'old fashioned values' when it comes to sex and relationships, so long as I still get access to infinite porn, premarital sex, and the occasional truck-stop blowjob.

    18. America should always be at the forefront of science, medicine and technology, but we can't have any tax money going to research, and have to teach young-earth creationism in every school.

    19. The President and/or Congress need to be able to fix the economy whenever it falters, without resorting to regulation, stimulus spending or any other market interference.

    Hey, this is fun. Kids, try it at home!

  • Nunya, I can tell you what it will take for people to realize that they have to invest in this country in order for it to succeed. More bridges falling, more deteriorating infrastructure, a higher unemployment rate with more of the jobs requiring highly educated people going overseas, and a general falling behind as the rest of the world surges ahead and some other nation takes on the "superpower" mantle. Of course, by then it'll be too late to do anything about it.

  • I have to agree with the other commenters, once again Ed has nailed it.

    Where can we find the original graph/analysis/commentary from John Sides? I'd be interested in clicking the link, reading the first two paragraphs, skimming the next two, and then surfing over to I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER or something…


  • Another brilliant post, Ed, though it seems irrelevant to praise concision in a death sentence. Still, truth is always exhilarating, I can't help it.

    @Sarah: I always thought Dubya's loner foreign policy had helped create the world's new superpower, which calls itself the European Union.

    I liked "a virulently anti-intellectual society." "Virulently" is good.

    Gotta recommend this post to friends.

    Dubya is on the TV right now, pushing his new novel.

    Subpoenas for Obama in January.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    The lesson of history is… no one ever learns it.

    History does not repeat itself, nor does it even rhyme. Still…

    In 68BC when pirates raided and burned Ostia, the tribune Gabinius drew up a piece of emergency legislation which granted unprecedented power to one military commander: complete dominion over Mediterranean waters and the lands within four hundred furlongs of the coast, power to levy unlimited ranks of soldiers and oarsmen, a free hand with the public treasury, and a fleet of ships "number of which to be determined".

    The pirates were eventually bottled up in Cilicia, where quite a few fell to the sword, a lesser few later paraded down the Via Triumphalis in Rome, and an even smaller privileged few who managed to slip through the hills into the interior of Asia Minor with their gold sacks only slightly lighter in weight.

    And see? They all lived happily ever after.

  • lunaticcringeradio says:

    we want a government that will resolve every problem we currently face

    couldn't disagree more.

    that's the essential problem that has plagued the united states since progressivism embedded itself into the american experiment. the government CAN'T resolve every problem and neither should it. many problems we face today should be left to the individual, then family, then community, then region, then city, then county, then district, then state before the federal government even steps in to suggest that they might even be asked to help with a problem.

    any astute political scientist and or historian knows this is not what our government was designed to be like.

    why are we voting for senators?

    can anyone answer that?

  • Monkey Business says:

    @lunaticcringeradio: You're clearly an idiot, so I'm going to use small words.

    Progressivism is the step forward shackled to the ball and chain of conservatism. It is dragging the huddled, unwashed, ignorant, and stupid masses forward one painful step at a time. Without progressivism, only white men would be allowed to vote and women and african-americans would still be second class citizens.

    I don't know of anyone who considers themselves a Democrat, Liberal, Progressive, etc. that advocates for a complete government takeover of services, at any level. We all recognize that there is a time and place for government intervention, such as those areas that are simply too big or of too great necessity to be left to business. Can you imagine GE running Social Security? Ford running Medicare? Microsoft running the military?

  • Bah, stupid 'submit comment' button.

    What I meant to say was that I'm not totally convinced about your explanation of the election results. If it all boils down "the democrats lost because the people who voted for them last time stayed home" then that doesn't really answer the question "why did the Democrats lose?" It just relocates the question to "why did those people stay home this time?"

    If you're going to criticize political commentators for presenting facile explanations of phenomena, you can't do the same thing. The best take ever on election night analysis is the Monty Python sketch, which has this great line from one talking head: "Well, this is largely as I predicted, except that the Silly Party won. I think this is largely due to the number of votes cast."

  • Yes, indeed, our irrational electorate, who truly believe that they could never be part of any "special interest" while everybody else is, and that the "general welfare clause" allows Congress to pass laws benefiting small groups rather than all citizens.

  • What Ed fails to point out is why so many decided to vote Republican this time around. He just kind of brushes it off. As for the list – it looks to me like the whining of a sore loser.

  • I'd like to put in a request for decaf coffee that wakes me up like caffeinated coffee but does not possess any of the negative side affects like headaches, jitters, and/or mud butt. Thanks.

  • No Darkies

    Yeah, I guess that T-party favored congressional candidate in Florida, Lt Colonel Allen West…you know, the dark one.
    He won.

    I guess his 92% White district didn't see his picture and noted that he was formerly a Light Colonel and just naturally assumed he was Caucasoid.


  • I see many shades of "1984" in our current government and the Liberal – Progressive elites of this country. I don't believe they are evil or work for nefarious reasons. Just wrong; well-meaning, but wrong about what this country is and ought to be. That is why I am heartened by the recent election and hope the electorate hold the Republicans' feet to the fire on their promises. One item in particular I support wholeheartedly – the "constitutionality clause". For every bill brought forth in Congress, an addendum will be included which cites the Article or Amendment that authorizes it.

    The "mandate" is, and should remain, a return to truly a Constitution-based legislative process and governance, with all the public scrutiny we can get. (BTW… Vice President Biden is holding a closed-door, invitation-only meeting today, with no press or public access, on – government transparency, no less.) So, there's Step One, then we can start going down the list of government programs and intrusions to see what is and is not allowed the federal government and start swinging that hatchet!

  • G&T comments are always more hilarious when some random right-wing pundit/blog/radiohost finds it and throws it out there for the rabid viewers/readers/listeners. Provides a good day or so of "WAAAAAH LIB'RULS" before they get bored and move on to the next thing their masters tell them to go do.

  • Now if the old politics rules in the state houses around these United States, the (what was it) 19? legislatures that the eeeeevil Rs have taken over…When the Re-Districting is done, if they have any stones, they just might Gerry-mander your asses back into second gear for the next decade.

    Wouldn't that be sumpin'?

    Of course that assumes that the Rs "do right" and don't explode into two parties in 2012. If the Ts go Conservative Party and leave the Rs, then your side will be the big weener in '12 w/ BHO as Pres and maybe some House recovery.


  • Uh, I thought it was somewhat obvious that they voted Republican this time around because they thought Obama would magically solve all of our problems and he disappointed them. I'll be sure to spell that out next time.

    Welcome, Boortz readers!

  • Elections always bring out the worst in people, because we Americans treat it like a goddamn sport.

    bb, you're a regular here, and usually you and I can come to, in the worst case, a civil disagreement on some points. But this 'your side' stuff really digs me.

    I of course can't speak for anyone else here. But I don't have a 'side'. I don't root for any 'team'. I just happen to understand that, come election day, I effectively have two choices for political leadership.

    One of these choices says they will impose harsher economic controls and spend more federal money.

    The other choice says that, if they had their way, Americans of Muslim faith will not have the same religious freedom as their fellow citizens to build houses of worship where they please on their private property.

    I always choose the option that delivers more personal freedom. It's not about partisanship or party lines. I would gladly vote for a Republican that pledged to reduce some of the size of government *while at the same time* pledging to get the hell out of the peoples' private lives. It's just that they never do. That "fiscal responsibility" message is always tied to a "And while we're at it, no more ay-rabs, and get them gays out of the army" message.

    And I will not support the degradation of personal freedom to lighten some of the load on my wallet.

    I do not have a 'side'. I do not vote for someone because they have a D or an R next to their name. I listen to what they say, and I look at what they do, and I make my choice based on that.

  • Mephist0paulus says:

    As much as I grimaced while reading your interpretation of what Americans want (for the record, I think your conclusions are inconsistent with the data you present), I admit you are correct in asserting that we are largely (and globally, I might add) a bunch of spoiled, whining, unrealistic, puerile, child-men who have no concept of what is entailed by adulthood. We have no concept of the actual meanings of words like cost and scarcity, and this leads us to make completely unrealistic demands like the ones you mentioned above.

    We are like the vicious little brats who go to the state fair with parents of limited means and then scream, wail, fall to the ground, kicking, rolling, and pouting when the parents say, "I don't have money to buy you the giant teddy bear, but haven't you had fun today at the fair?"

    There's something wrong with the premise behind these judgments of who we are. I am rationally cynical in the sense that I understand that it takes a great deal of hard work to become an adult, and a great many mistakes made lead us to true wisdom. My cynicism lies in understanding that if a man is not in any way incentivized to do that hard work or to endure and learn from those mistakes, he will do neither, and will remain a child, even though he grows to large stature. He'll need to be led through life, coddled, and pampered by a nanny. This is what we have created in our Western society–physically grown mental children.

    I temper my cynicism with the knowledge that the one thing that any child wants desperately is to grow up, and to learn new things that free him from constantly having things done for him by his parents. We systematically remove all incentives for children to do so. We place them in factory schools that teach them to start and stop thinking/speaking/writing at the toll of a bell. We pound into their heads that they must accomplish education by the state's standards, and not by their own self-interested judgments. We dribble all over them with bullshit about self-esteem, and then do the exact opposite of what is required to instill that esteem in them. In fact, by the time a child graduates high school, so destroyed is the mechanism fro self-direction that government is completely required to step in and take over.

    There is a brain disease in cattle that basically destroys the entire frontal lobe. The cow seems completely unaffected by this condition, as long as there is grass to munch. I posit that the human version of this disease is our education system, whereby we make many necks ready for so many leashes. We've accomplished the most difficult task–create collar-ready slaves who believe themselves free, unless you disturb the mechanisms by which their necessities and desires are fed.

    The Tea Party movement is the best attempt by pseudo-adults to wake up and ditch the Matrix. While I agree with you that the election results do not reflect a revolution, the fact is that there is an attempt to end the torpor that defines our political consciousness. Unfortunately, we are having to overcome a mountain of irrational entitlement that has been grilled into us from an early age. See John Taylor Gatto's fine book _The Underground History of American Education_ for more on this topic.

  • Dude, this is a comments section. Once you pass 500 words and/or 5 entire paragraphs, you should probably just consider starting your own blog instead. You can get them for free now, you know!

  • Maybe I'm completely wrong, but my understanding is the Reps won by a large margin because of 3 reasons:

    1) A lot of Republicans voted. I mean the ones that are always Republican
    2) Independents switched over
    3) Democrats stayed home.

    People are focusing on the first 2 and ignoring the third, which makes this election seem like a life changing election.

    I 2012 if the Tea Party splits the GOP and Dems win again, will that be another mandate that the people have spoken?

    And if Reps win more, is that yet another one?

    The coverage of this is like the NFL. One week the Jets can't win because they don't have a QB, the next week they win because they have a QB. And in a matter of a couple years "the people have spoken" twice.

  • Sorry but this analysis is just wrong.

    First of all claiming that being in a district that went 55% for Obama shows that democrats in general are safe is ignoring the fact that the percent of elections in the 45% – 55% Obama range in 2008 is huge. Just eyeballing it, it looks like maybe 40% of congressional districts are in that range. 40% of all congressional districts is a huge amount. If in the end the republicans pick up 65 seats that is still just 15% of the seats and that will be the biggest swing since 1948.

    Second of all if you look at the chart you will notice that a much more significant of districts in 2008 went 75% or more democrat then went 75% or more republican, probably in the range of 10 to 20 to 1. That may sound good for the democrats to you but it sure looks like wasted votes to me. I would rather win 2 districts by 55 – 45 then win one district by 75 – 25 and lose another by 35 – 65

    Third you cherry picked a starting point (2008) when the democrats had a great year so that in 2010 they had a bunch of incumbents running. The track record of incumbents in congress is impressive or at least it had been until last week.

    Finally you are ignoring the facts that the Republicans won a huge victory last week. To minimize it by insulting the republicans so called platform diminishes not only your argument but yourself.

  • "Why? Most likely because turnout fell 18-20% compared to 2008. Some people who showed up just to vote for Obama did not show up again, and some people who voted for him decided to vote Republican this time. "

    You didn't answer WHY, you answered HOW. All that sentence really says is "Democrats lost because they got fewer votes than Republicans." We know that. We know it was because of turnout and Independent voters. What the pundits are trying to explain, and the point which you conveniently ignore, is WHY those people decided not to show up, or why the Independents went Republican this time instead of Democrat.

    It's not because Americans are elitist jerks who think they're God's chosen people and should get whatever they want without repercussion. In fact, it's specifically because we know we're NOT. The current administration is spending and borrowing so much money that every single human being living in the USA right now owes over $40,000 to the various people it was borrowed from. We didn't co-sign for those loans, and we don't want to pay them back, but we're going to do it anyway, but you can be damn sure that we're going to get rid of the people that spent the money in the first place and replace them with people who (hopefully) will show some restraint and try to get us back out of the hole we're now in.

    THAT is WHY people didn't show up to vote for Democrats in droves. Next time try more analysis and less vitriol.

  • @lunatic

    "why are we voting for senators"

    Any astute political scientist or historian would tell you that our government was designed to change. Hence the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which allows the direct election of Senators.

    You act like amending the Constitution is some grave affront to it. The original design of our government was made by people humble enough to recognize they may not have all the answers for all the times, and that perhaps parts of their design would be considered ill-thought in the future.

  • @Zach

    Glenn Beck told me otherwise. I was under the impression that the founders knew everything and that the constitution should never change, except for the parts where he'd like.

  • That post was a thing of beauty.

    I guess I can add that I sometimes find myself shouting at the teevee for its similar liberties and abuses of physical science (at least so much as they exist among the various entertainment and nooze vehicles–the PBS-style docs can grouch me up too, but they're basically sincere) from its remedial understanding of facts to its ludicrous representation of teh investigative process. In some popular films, I have entertained myself trying to piece together what the science consultant must have told the director and writers, and what they subsequently chose to ignore.

  • Don't forget that some of those democratic incumbents who lost were Blue Dogs, and since the F'd up health care and other things, I think there were people who voted to get them out of office. Or they may have been those that stayed home and didn't vote. Same results.

    As for insulting the republican platform, I live in Texas. Our GOP platform is so backwards and bigoted that you can't insult it worse than show it as it is. We have re-elected a moron for governor who gave us the $25 billion budget shortfall, who has ransacked our schools, who has refused federal money (our tax money) that would help us, who (apparently) wants to get rid of medicaid so that poor people have no health insurance, and who's idea of patrolling the border is to get (federal) army reserve soldiers (not the state guard, since Texas would have to pay for it). Hypocritical moron, yet we are stuck with this baboon. The post above hardly does it justice.

  • Where will all these people so affronted by Constitutional violations and ridiculous levels of spending during the Bush administration?

    Oh right, but those were all justifiable because we were fighting a war against a derogative noun that we couldn't possibly win.

  • "Yeah, I guess that T-party favored congressional candidate in Florida, Lt Colonel Allen West…you know, the dark one.
    He won. "

    I hate it when someone uses "That one black guy I can name" move to gloss over a whole bunch of racist crazy. Allen West is NEVER going to be part of congressional Republican leadership, but he sure as shit is going to be in a lot of glossy promo pictures as window dressing. That way the Tea Party people can send all the watermelon emails they want while they wave around signs about how inferior all the brown people are and it won't be racist.

    Seriously, name a black Republican who ever influenced anything since reconstruction. Powell and Rice spent 8 years being ignored or used, Michael Steele is allowed to be a punch line because Citizens United renders his position moot.

    By the way, the cousin to the "That one black guy I can name" move is the "I have black friends who never complain about my racist crazy so I'm not racist". Your black coworker is not your friend. He or she lets your crazy slide because you haven't been such an ass that it's worth it to go to HR and deal with all of the consequences of that.

  • Shane Says: Where will all these people so affronted by Constitutional violations and ridiculous levels of spending during the Bush administration?

    They either stayed home, voted democrat or (in my case) libertarian in 2008. They were rewarded by spending levels that, adjusted for inflation, are vastly larger then any President ever proposed with the possible exception of WWII. By this time next year Obama will in 3 years outspent 8 years of Bush, If Bush spending levels were ridiculous what do you call Obama's spending levels?

    By the way I don't really remember the Constitutional violations of the Bush administration. Guantanamo bay did not qualify. They were never in the US nor were they citizens nor did they qualify for the Geneva Convention. German POWs during WWII held in the US did not receive civilian trials or lawyers.

    Lying about WMDs? Sorry no. He didn't lie. He was wrong. It's not the same thing. Even if he had lied he wasn't under oath unlike his predecessor.
    You can make a case regarding Jose Padilla (spelling from memory) but they eventually tried him in a civilian court unlike the Roosevelt administration that tried and convicted 2 US citizens in military court and executed one.

  • Hah. Gotta love Sean's "don't blame me I voted libertarian" excuse, only to go on to defend the Bush presidency, pretending like issues such as the labeling of "enemy combatants", warantless wiretapping, torture, Guantanamo Bay, and generally the fulfillment of the Nixonian notion "it's not illegal if the President does it." are so easily dismissed as being irrelevant or baseless.

    And then, the coup de grâce – to suggest that somehow President Clinton's lie is more egregious than a lie about WMD's simply because of the issue of oath.

    This election, and the detractors in this comment thread are a confirmation bias circle jerk. The tea party emanated from admittedly libertarian roots, but to pretend like this election is a reinforcement of your Government-can do-no-right mentality is no worse than someone who was excited that the country was going to be a gay-wedding, single-payer, Pentagon-abolishing heaven after Obama.

  • @Brian
    Totally wrong on the economics. Your comment reflects a complete lack of understanding (shared by the vast majority) of how fiat currency works, how the Federal Government pays for things, and what taxes are for. You, I , Ed, and every person in this country "owes" exactly nothing. The main danger in Federal spending is inflation. Every single economic metric indicates that just the opposite is happening. So, to all of you who think the Feds need to tighten their belts and stop spending, enjoy the consequences of your ignorance (see, e.g., Japan in the 1990s). Also, the idea the the Republican Party is going to be fiscally disciplined is insane. They will vote against spending, yes, but not out of fiscal prudence. It will be out of spite, a resource which to the G.O.P. is more precious than life itself. Literally.

  • Mike:

    One Influential Black Republican since Reconstruction:

    Justice Clarence Thomas

    Your solicitous words about Dr Rice are touching since it was your guys that put out the cartoons w/ her characterized as Prissy in "Gone With the Wind."

    Don't know nuthin' about birthin' no nukes…


  • "6. Giant trucks and SUVs that drive like Formula One race cars, look cool, fit into small parking spaces, cost under $18,000, and get the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius"…and get me chicks. Lots of chicks. Also too.

  • The electorate voted for Republicans in 2010 for the same reason they voted for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008. In those previous elections the Republicans had proven themselves incapable of governing in a responsible manner and the only alternative was the Democrats. This time around, the Democrats have proven that they are incapable of governing in a responsible manner and the only alternative was the Republicans. The Democrats still have the Senate and the Presidency so they still have the majority of governing in a responsible manner so they have the most to lose in 2012. If there had been a reasonable third choice I believe that the Democrats and Republicans would both be in the majority after this latest election. Neither has proven that they can govern responsibly and put the needs of the nation above their partisan politics and above the needs of their special interests.

  • The Congress took a trashing a week ago due the promise to change Washington made by Obama in 2008 being ignored. The people still want massive change in how our government does business and the final nail in the democrat coffin of 2010 was the mode of transport to get health care reform on the president's desk. This seems to be the only common ground that conservatives and liberals can agree upon right now: if you like Obamacare it is repugnant how it came to be and if you hate Obamacare the same applies. I sincerely hope the same backroom deal making to pass legislation, if continued, brings just as harsh a flogging to the republicans in 2012.

  • The 'ME' Generation strikes again. Back in the 1970's selfish assholes left there spouses and kids to go 'find themselves'.

    Thirty five years later they want the government to get out of their Medicare.

    Tea Party—Me Generation—— Reagan Revolution—–same thing—-just a way that they can say I got mine so so screw you.

  • zach Says: Hah. Gotta love Sean's "don't blame me I voted libertarian" excuse

    No excuse zach just a fact. I largely voted Libertarian last week too. Fiscal responsibility is important to me and because of that I will not vote for anyone that voted for the bank bailout or stimulus package. That ruled out both Obama or McCain in 2008, both my republican Senators and my democrat representative (Hank Johnson GA-4). In the last two election cycles I voted against them 7 times (including one runoff) not counting the primaries.

    Bloivate all you want but the bottom line is that Bush did not run rip shod over the Constitution any more then other presidents do. The Bush “domestic wiretapping” scandal involved telephone calls that at least one caller was outside of the US. Exactly how does one listen in on ½ of a conversation?

    When Bush lost in court regarding Jose Padilla he accepted that loss and abided by the court decision. Exactly what would you call someone not in uniform shooting at US troops in a war zone? If not “enemy combatant” how about attempted murderer?

    Of the 8 German spies landed on Long Island and Florida in 1942 all were tried in military court and 6 were executed. Was that “Nixonian”? By the way what does Nixon have to do with this? Nixon broke criminal law. So did Clinton yet you are willing to forgive Clinton.

    Guantanamo Bay was and is perfectly justified. What do you think we should do with the prisoners? I’ll give you a hint. The options are:

    Detain them in Guantanamo Bay
    Let them go to shoot at us again
    Turn them over to the Iraqi or Afghani governments
    Shoot them while they are in combat or they are “attempting to escape”

    Trust me on this. Our soldiers aren’t going to let them go so they can shoot at them another day.

    You also wrote that: “to suggest that somehow President Clinton's lie is more egregious than a lie about WMD's simply because of the issue of oath.”

    Do you know how ridiculous that statement is? First of all Bush didn't lie. Then there isatter of the law.
    If it is OK to lie in some trials is it OK to lie in all trials? If not perhaps you can enlighten us as to which ones you can lie in?

    Sexual Harassment, Divorce, Shop lifting, Assault, Rape, Murder? Come on zach I’d like to know where you draw the line. At least I’m consistent.

    I disagree that the tea party emanated from libertarian roots. For one thing I suspect that in general they are anti-gay marriage. You may be surprised but I voted against the Georgia Defense of Marriage Constitutional Amendment back in 2004 that would have made Gay marriage unconstitutional in Georgia.

  • "This time around, the Democrats have proven that they are incapable of governing in a responsible manner and the only alternative was the Republicans."

    – DrEvil Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Please Doctor, could you expand on this proof of incapability? Because your utter lack of evidence to support this supposition is exactly the point of this post (not that you noticed).

  • Boortz listeners, I've got a question:

    How exactly do you understand a word the man says with the ten marbles he always carries around in the back of his mouth?

    I mean, think of how many times you have to hear him try to get out "Bawwwrahwhwhwhk Obawwwwaaaa." I'd check out at three.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    Oh, D,.N., D.N. Those In The Know know those aren't marbles.

    (Hint: It looks like a submarine and the crew is called…)

  • Sorry Sean, your analysis leaves much to be desired. By not understanding my point of Nixon's quote you're demonstrating that you're sorely lacking in understanding Bush's expansionary executive power. I'm not going to argue specifics with you, because you've made up your mind that these things in question are constitutional.

    I'm trying to make you understand that points you take as settled are actually highly contentious constitutional issues. To pretend there is no controversy around Bush's expansion of executive power or that he's done no worse than any other President is simply out of touch with the history of the office. This is not saying that other President's are without their violations (FDR, Lincoln come to mind), but the original point remains – intentional pursuit of constitutionally questionable activities during the Bush administration was not a concern of those who would become tea partiers. Many of these same policies are being continued by Obama, where's the outrage there? There's none because these people are not concerned about the Constitution. They don't give a shit about it except how they feel it's applied to their very narrow self interest of promoting a right wing Christian agenda. The constitution has become a rallying cry of resistance to change.

    You also completely misunderstand my statement about Clinton. Nowhere did I justify perjury – the process and rule of law are paramount. I was taking you to task for your inability to avoid a partisan jab at Clinton, suggesting that somehow if Bush lied, at least he didn't do it under oath, so it's somehow less bad.

    And once again, you gloss over Bush's complicity in the WMD claims as settled. At best, Bush was unaware of the lies being pushed by his administration, but documents like the Downing Street Memo and multiple independent confirmations suggest that high level administration figures were intentionally fitting intelligence to support their policy of War in Iraq.

    Your hawkishness, Bush apologetics (particularly on issues of civil liberties), and lack of knowledge of the history of the libertarian origins of Tea Party really call into question your libertarian ideals. It's well known that the Tea Party is rooted in Ron Paul's '08 campaign – a rally to call to the end of fiat currency and the Federal Reserve.

  • Chris Westmont says:

    "Exactly what would you call someone not in uniform shooting at US troops in a war zone?"

    If the war zone is their country, I'd call them a militia defending their home. So if Canada invaded the US, and I killed Canadian troops, I'd be guilty of murder because I'm not part of the military?

  • @Brian: Personally, I almost stayed home, and NOT because the President and Congress are overspending. Rather, it's because the President and the Senate did not seem to attempt strong progressive change; they compromised and compromised with a right wing that DIDN'T compromise. So, please do not lump disaffected progressives and Democrats in with your group of government spending hand-wringers.

  • Brilliant!! And your 15 point list of what the American voters have demanded, on the money.

    This past summer when Billy whats his name, president of some Louisiana parish, was on AC 360 every night screaming for the federal government to come right now, this very moment and pour money into STOPPING THE OIL SPILL even though Louisiana has been in bed with oilmen for the last 50 years or so, I thought we are a fucked up spoiled nation. We want it all, everything right now!!!!

    Veruca Salt comes to mind and she was one bad egg!

  • What we all want is no government, but we need someone giving us all the free stuff so we don't have to work. Work is the real enemy. Why don't we abolish work altogether and let the rich pay for everything. Of course who will give us our daily bubble bath, or answer our phone, or walk our dog. Someone has got to work! right?

    Many years ago a man once said if a man will not work then don't let him eat. It was also said i was hungry and you fed me, i was thirsty and you gave me something to eat, i was naked and you clothed me, Sick and you came and took care of me. Each of these acts takes effort on our part. It is in effort for others, service to others we find joy.
    We in our country and especially the political look not for service but to be served. Happiness is what we are told by the media we want. Happiness is but 20 minutes for some even less.

    Politicians are always trying to make others better. They try to make bigger buildings, better jobs, more money for retirement, safer drugs, better parents. I will follow the statesman who is trying to make himself a better person and it shows in his character.

    Someday maybe we will find that true Mr Smith who will go to washington. There are some there now but wouldn't it be great is we elected in the house of rep. not politicians with long resumes but the average joe who makes less than 40k a year as a Hvac joe, a plumber joe, a Hair stylist josephine, real people who would want to clean up the mess in washington and really try to fix washington. then go home to never serve again after 2 years.
    The insiders, the elite, the intellectuals, would not ever understand why this would work but then again it is they who got us into this mess to begin with.

    I guess like the rest of this blog we can only dream!

  • Twisted_Colour says:

    @SeanO: Even if he had lied he wasn't under oath unlike his predecessor.

    Sorry Sean, Clinton didn't lie under oath. The prosecution agreed on a definition of sex that didn't include receiving oral sex (it did include giving oral sex, but Clinton never went down on Lewinsky).

    To put it simply, the prosecution fucked up and Clinton took advantage of that. He didn't commit perjury.

  • @James Osborne but wouldn't it be great is we elected in the house of rep. not politicians with long resumes but the average joe who makes less than 40k a year as a Hvac joe

    Well no, actually not. I'd rather think that running the most powerful nation on the planet might actually take a bit more wisdom and expertise than installing furnaces.

    My brother-in-law is an "average joe". Works construction. Lives in the country. Drives a pickup. Drinks Budweiser. Hunts and fishes. Nice guy – but he wouldn't make my top 100 list of people I'd want running the country.

  • @bb-

    Clarence Thomas is the whitest guy on the Supreme Court. I've long thought he and Joe Morgan were the same guy, but if that were true Thomas would be stepping down. Goddammit!

  • What you described in the beginning of the post is why I can never allow myself to watch Glee. That's exactly why.

  • I'm not sure how Clarence Thomas counts as "influential".

    Has he even spoken since he's been on the court?

    You could just give Scalia two votes and achieve the same effect.

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    not sure i can add anything. i did read the comments though. i want to have puppies that never grow old or have to poo on my carpet. can i get it? please? i also want to discover my own dinosaur and name it after me, "the manly, mythy dinosaur." can i get it? please?

  • To effect a complete derail – what I do not understand, and have never understood, is people not voting. I understand that there are people who are, for linguistic or other reasons, incapable or unlikely to take an interest in the political process. However, if you are semi-literate in English, can dress, groom and feed yourself, and hold some type of gainful employment, voting should require no more effort than subscribing to a magazine. I would no more think of not voting that I would of wearing the same underwear two days in a row. Who ARE these people? I'm sincerely curious. Is this perhaps a consequence of my upbringing, and apathy is the more normal, since more prevalent, state of being?

    Advise, please, GinandTacos regulars. Boortzlings, not so much.

  • zach Says: Sorry Sean, your analysis leaves much to be desired. By not understanding my point of Nixon's quote you're demonstrating that you're sorely lacking in understanding Bush's expansionary executive power. I'm not going to argue specifics with you, because you've made up your mind that these things in question are constitutional.

    You're right my analysis does leave much to be desired. I tried to find a source for John Sides' chart but was unable to. Then I tried to find a downloadable source of the 2008 congressional results that identified party but again was unable to and I was too lazy to type the data in one election at a time. That is why I had to estimate that 40% of the elections fell into the 45 – 55 range. Fortunately I just found a downloadable file of 2008 and only 30% of the elections fell into that range.

    Ed's analysis completely ignores the 45 – 50 half of that range. Perhaps you should consider not just what the democrats lost and held but what they failed to win. The chart has three colors, blue for dem wins, red for rep gains and pink for rep gains. There is however no color for dem gains. In fact the dems did gain seats just not many. I count 3; DE-AL, HI-1 and LA-2. That's nothing to brag about. Further, in 2008 these districts went for Obama respectfully by 62, 70 and 74 percent. In fact 2 of these districts were considered "flukes", HI-1 where a republican won a special election because the democrats split their votes and LA-2 where the republicans won a runoff when democrats couldn't bother to show up to support a crook.

    Further looking at only the 55% and greater Obama districts eliminates 252 districts leaving only 183. Maybe my analysis leaves much to be desired but I don't see how celebrating holding these seats is going to regain the dems the House. In 2008, there were only 8 rep seats in the 55% and over Obama category in 2008 and one, LA-2, has already switched. I don't see a lot of room for gains there and since there were 29 dems in the 45% or less category in 2008 (God knows how many today) there is probably as much to lose as gain. The important segment is the 45 – 55% range and Ed's analysis completely ignores that group. How do you expect to win if you don't take the middle? Maybe Obama will get 70% of the vote in 2012 propelling the dems to retake the house but maybe the Swedish bikini team is about to knock on my door and ask to borrow the hot tub.

    I'm not going to argue Nixon, Bush or Clinton with you. I think we both agree that, that will simply be a waste of time.

    I will say however that you make a valid point about the Ron Paul phenomena in 2008 and the birth of the Tea Party. I'm not sure I agree but there were a great many republicans that were disgruntled regarding the McCain nomination. I don't think that Ron Paul is a significant factor in the movement. McCain's VP, Sarah Palin, obviously is.

    Honestly I think it is more an anti-republican and democrat movement then anything else although they are disproportionately republicans. The question is, which party is more willing to embrace the. So far the reps have but they seem to be holding their noses while doing it. They are united by very few issues but probably the most significant ones are less government and less spending. They are also not going away.

  • Fifth Dentist says:

    "I recall back in 2000 being told that 5 electoral votes equaled a 'mandate'".

    No. Bush meant that since he won Jeff Gannon was coming over for a "mandate."

  • I can't add anything of interest to this party, so I'll just comment that I now think Rand Paul may be the most libertarian Libertarian ever. He's boiled down the whole incoherent philosophy to its single essential principle:
    "What's in it for me?"

  • @Sean Ogilvie – "The question is, which party is more willing to embrace the(m)(?)"

    So, they are 'disproportionately Repbulicans', but they wont be any more, if and when the Democrats embrace them?


  • @tommytimp and eau

    Y'all must be correct. Race is just the White man's invention to institutionalize our fear of the "other" Justice Thomas is any color you want him to be…cum bayuh

    But seriously folks, how can you pass the straight face test saying that one of nine people who sit on the highest appelate court in the land is not influential?


  • b(u)b(ba) in GA – "But seriously folks, how can you pass the straight face test saying that one of nine people who sit on the highest appelate court in the land is not influential?"

    My heavens, you are one dumb cracker.

    The man has said nothing since his appointment, beyond pointing at Scalia and saying "what he said".

    Can we just split the country up already and go our separate ways? Suffering through more conservative 'governance' is more than I can handle.

  • What @OH_cane said.


    "Race is just the White man's invention to institutionalize our fear of the "other""

    Nice try, but you're not stealing that one off us, bb.

    Everyone knows liberals invented race, class and gender in order to curtail the God-given rights of honest patriots.

  • @SeanOgilvie

    The Tea Party had Libertarian roots for about 5 minutes. Then it was taken over by the Koch's, Fox News, and the GOP as a means to further what the Right has always furthered; increased protection of business interests under the guise of "free market", "individualism" and "smaller government". Voting for the Tea Party this time around was essentially an admittance of being duped.

  • sir,
    you're giving political science a bad name here. The only empirical evidence you provide is that districts that garnered a lower vote share for Obama in 2008 were more likely to go Republican. This is practically intuitive and not an "explanation" of anything really. To determine whether or not there is a "mandate", (after defining what a mandate is) one would probably need survey research, some good theory, some fancy regression functions, and some endogeneity tests; not a simple and obvious graph. There is no theory, hypothesis, null hypothesis and empirical evidence to support any of the other questionable claims. You talk down on the media, but you're not any better. Referencing political scientists is not political science. There is much theory that may explain this past vote–from the work on presidential coattails, congressional midterm decline, retrospective voting, campaign effects, etc.–but you present none of it.
    So, stop claiming that this is political science. This is an opinion blog, like all the others.

  • N Kris hagen Jr says:

    It seems that in every recent election, we hear the words "mandate" or the "people have spoken"
    That "people have spoken" makes me want to just reach out and choke somebody

    In the county where I live in NJ there are 169 K registered voters. About 54 K showed up to vote.
    What accounts for the no-shows? Lets assume 10 percent are dead. Maybe another 10 live someplace else.

    Where were the rest? Disgusted and turned off.

    Almost every political commercial or advertisement during the campaign is a flat-out lie.

    Remember the "Town Hall" meetings when people opposed to health care reform showed up and it was almost like watching TV wrestling matches without chairs being thrown.

    All of the arguments seemed to be based on nonsense and lies.

    Like the points listed, Americans want government spending on themselves but not on others who don't deserve it.

    We seem to be acting like the rabal unwashed masses fighting over table scraps.

    As long as we are fighting with each other, we're not paying attention to the real situation.

    The results of this election were based on the fact that the advertisers, marketers and spin machine working for those out of power convinced just enough of the electorate that things are really crappy and those currently in power are the ones who made it that way

    We have a young idealistic man in the white house who had a vision of us being our better selves, that there could be a new way of doing things and that political opponents could reach common ground and acomplish something that was not done before.

    Metaphoricly the fat cats in the board room who really run the world sat with their cigars and glasses of their choice of alcoholic poison, quietly made a phone call, and said to get rid of this upitty negro, and stop this age of aquarius bullshit

  • This is a super post, but for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to read it all, you can boil it down to

    Ponies. Lots and lots of ponies that don't eat and don't poop.

  • great post! although i would add something about group identity. american's are individualistic but they also define themselves by group identities – whether american, white, black, christian etc. so…
    16. i want to believe that my racial/ethnic/religious group is superior to other groups and self-righteously claim that i am not a racist or a bigot.
    17. i want to pretend that racism/sexism/homophobia does not exist unless my group is the victim.
    18. i want to pretend that 16 and 17 apply to all groups equally and certainly not mostly to whites, males, and christians.

  • Clearly, the answer to entitlements forever is Solyent Green. Cake. I don't got to show you no stinking cake!
    Isn't it great how the Bushie buffoons post here completely obvlious to Rome burning around them. Oh, that's right. They're not Bushies anymore, they're tea baggers. Yup, that's the ticket.
    Just click your heels three times, and say "There's no place like home".
    And don't pay any attention to that man behind the curtain. But wait, he's the new speaker of the house. The house of cards that will soon be falling.
    Help me. I'm melting.

  • Back in the fifties and sixties, it seemed Americans had a better grasp of propaganda and how to read between the lines. Now, too many people are too easy to fool by the use of emotionally charged terms that don't have clear definitions.

    There is clearly a quantum leap in the amount of money expended to support conservative candidates who are anti-taxation and unclear on the most basic laws of economics.

    That HUGE funding has popped up recently–in the last few years. What significant change in our tax laws and policies could have produced so many billionaires with so much interest in our lawmakers?

    When you are a billionaire, you can create your own propaganda machine and control the media. But why would you want to?

  • walter wego,
    take a look at the book Nixonland. it makes a pretty good argument that the tactics of Nixon were dependent on an easily fooled public. i wasn't around in the 60s but from what i've read it seems pretty similar. the difference is power – particularly the power of labor unions in the 1950s and 1960s compared with today. something like 30% of the workforce was unionized back then, today it's less than 10.


    The Godfather or Portfolio Management, Markowitz, told Buffett… "When you come across some facts that conflict with what you believe… write it down. Revisit it often. Our brains have a way of making sense of everything we see. It's healthy, a natural tendency, and self sustaining. But when itcomes to learning and absorbing the world around you it is very dangerous."

    The election reminds me of that lesson. Obama ran on idealism, he was called a hero, unique, brave. The goals were based in reality however.

    During the election, in a debate, both were asked what program they would cut if the economy grew worse (Oct '08). Obama added a program each time he had a chance to answer.

    The reason why Clinton could increase taxes and the economy grew? productivity per worker benefited from the average age of workers (data has shown across countries and decades… those in their 40s exhibit the most/hour/wage in productivity. Also- incremental benefits of computerization were at their highest rate. It was the right time to increase taxes. Since… we need to put out our dollars in sources of the highest return on investment… that is in the private sector.

    And finally, why I love Democrats. their hearts remind me how important people are. I'm not cold hearted. I'm very detailed & hard working. Honestly- I worked through the night last night to get a project done. I'm not as nice as Democrats. But please, vote Republican, especially in difficult times. I completely believe that we all know what's best for our country at a time and why. Right now. We need more insensitive workabholics that make tough decisions. In four years, I'll relax. We all will.

  • Typical liberal, socialist crap. The government does everything for the masses. No personal responsibility. I hope it never happens.

  • Clearly there is a middle section of that graph that was predominantly blue in 2008 and is now dark red. That indicates that the country has moved (at least for this election) towards the Republicans. Even though the Republicans didn't win the most Democratic districts doesn't mean they didn't decisively win this election.

    Each politician who won their election has a mandate to pursue policies that they campaigned on.

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