No Mandate for Either One
Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 06 August 2012
The presidential election, of course, has the capacity to be a
disaster on wheels, either way it goes. But let me sketch a quick
scenario in which it could be a good thing -- either way.
One of my assumptions in this thought experiment is that in the
gubernatorial races, in the Senate races, and in the House races, it is
going to be a bloodbath for the Democrats. There are various good
reasons for supposing this but, I hasten to add, we don't know for sure.
Sometime soon I will go into my reasons for thinking this likely, but
for now my happy thought experiment scenario either way depends upon it.
If this happens, and Obama is re-elected, then it will not at all be
like his first two years in office, when he had control of the Congress,
and a mandate "to do something." In this scenario, he would be
He would be limited to saying silly things instead of doing
silly things. If Obama were president, and the Congress were a bunch of
Picts with blue face paint on, resolved that nothing whatever was going
to happen to their left, then we could have ourselves some
greatly-to-be-desired gridlock. Everybody assumes that we want
government to work, but I don't. I want government to quit it. A
principled scaling-back would be wonderful, but gridlock could do in a
The challenge in this regard will be tougher if Romney is elected
because it will be easier for everyone to assume that he has a mandate
to govern (to "get things done"), and all of his instincts, and those of
his advisers, will want to draw them to the center. They will think
that bipartisanship is a good thing, and the standard mainstream
Republican ploy will come out -- run to the right, and govern to the
If the new Republican majorities in both houses believe that Romney
is supposed to lead them, then we will be in far worse shape than if
Obama were elected. If the conservatives in Congress agree to "take one
for the team" as Santorum famously did for Bush, then the worst thing
possible would be for a squish like Romney to be elected. If Congress
would go farther left for Romney than they would for Obama, then why
would we want that? Why should we work for that state of affairs?
But if the Republicans are adequately obstreperous, and every single
move that Romney makes toward the center is treated as if he had just
nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, then lots of good things
could happen. The majorities in Congress have to consider themselves to
be a firewall against the Republican president. But Romney can lead as
much as he wants in that other direction.
The issue is this. A Republican Congress will know that they must
stop Obama from doing whatever he wants to do leftward. They have the
identical responsibility for anything that Romney wants to do to leftward. That will be harder for them to do, and it is the great danger of a
Romney presidency. The reason I am hopeful is that the Tea Party revolt
appears to be on a roll, most recently with the Cruz victory in Texas. What we need to counter-act our establishment candidate at the top of
the ticket is a bunch of non-establishment candidates down below.
far, that appears to be what is shaping up, at least as a possibility.