A polarizing election leaves us polarized in its wake. On the Left, the stance is that Barack Obama’s victory serves as a mandate. On the Right, the stance is that the President’s victory is no mandate. Both sides have arguments to prove their point.
But, what does the reality of a “status quo election” tell us? With Congressional Approval Ratings at all-time lows and ratings of the Federal Government also at all-time lows, how does one explain the fact that the 2012 Elections resulted in maintenance of the established order? If Americans are as frustrated with the gridlock in Washington as they say they are, how is it that they elect to keep the balance of power the same? In the final analysis, we still have a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives.
What then is this mandate?
Democrats will tell you that the mandate is for President Obama to charge ahead with his agenda. They will argue that the election results demonstrate approval by the American people, on the President’s vision for America. They will point to the 332 – 206 Electoral Vote margin, and call the victory a landslide. As such, the results stand as proof that the America is clearly in favor of the direction laid forth by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
Yet, simply looking at a map of the election results shows us a different picture. When we glance at this map, we see a divided America…not the clear favor and victorious landslide some would suggest. We see that a sizable portion of the Country was (and is) not on-board with the agenda. A large swatch of the American Fabric rejects that agenda. What is clear, is the general division between the hinterland and the coastal lands. So with a mere 2.4% separating the popular vote, I can also understand why some would say that this “divided nation did not hand President Obama a mandate in his re-election victory.”
What then is this mandate?
We can (and pundits will) argue this point for weeks and months, never coming to a consensus. Politics is like that…depending on who does the spinning. Yet, the lens of the Gospel calls us to begin rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election.
As Psalm 133 states, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” It is in through this lens that I began rethinking the mandate given President Obama in light of this status quo election. It is as if the people issued a mandate for the President and the status quo Congress to go back and find ways to work together. It is as if the electorate told the President, the Democrat Senate and the Republican House they would not be let off the hook. Neither would have the opportunity to loose control of either Branch of Government, so they could point the finger at the other. Neither would be afforded the chance to gain control of either Branch of Government, so they could simply ignore the call to work together. Both are now stuck with each other. And, the mandate given Barack Obama is that he must stay, stand and fix the fundamental problem of discord.
Yet, for this to make sense we must begin rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election. We the People, on the Right, and We the People, on the Left, must not allow ourselves to be blinded by the pinheaded arguments of pundits who create spin to keep their jobs. The turn around we need to move forward is of a different sort. And, those who stood watch as division rose to crippling proportions and profited from the discord must be the ones held accountable. They must be the ones to lead lead us to that good and pleasant place of unity.
When we rethink the mandate for President Obama, we are not caught in the issues of Right and Left. Rather, we see that consciously (or, subconsciously) We the People have – indeed – issued a mandate that Barack Obama return to the White House and fulfill his promise to forge “A More Perfect Union.”
The mandate is not of an economic nature. The mandate is not health care. The mandate is not jobs. For neither of these issues, or any other, can be solved if we don’t address the failings of our humanity.
Rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election begs us to see that the dollars and cents are not as important as our soul…that reconciling our budget is not as urgent as reconciling our spirit – that it might be maintain in the bond of peace. The division serves to remind us, that we might remind him of his own words at the 2004 DNC Convention: “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.”
What do you say? I say, the mandate for President Obama is social. Not social as in social engineering, but social as in how the various members of our Society relate so that out of many we might truly become one. Will you enforce that mandate?
“How good and how pleasant it is for God’s people to live together in unity!”