Incredible as it seems, the Republicans are claiming Tuesday's election result has given them a "mandate".
To this observer a "mandate" is achieved when voters believe a candidate (or their party in this instance) has something "positive" to offer and vote accordingly. Republicans offered nothing "positive" in this election. Overwhelming rejection of the party in power by the voters does not automatically make for a "mandate" given to the other party.
The party of "no" or "hell no" won big on Tuesday primarily because the economy remains in the dumper, jobs are scarce and not being created fast enough to keep up with an expanding population, people are still losing jobs contributing to an expanding foreclosure crisis that has worsened and been corrupted by lenders using suspect and shady practices by fraudulently bringing foreclosure notices to already strapped homeowners.
Republicans won with a flood of undisclosed campaign cash that produced an unprecedented number of despicable ads of lies and innuendos that distorted the candidacy of their opponents. They relied on top down driven and dictated party discipline that tolerated no deviation by their candidates which produced a lockstep mentality and no independent thought or action on their part. Republican leadership style is characterized by an unprincipled ruthlessness that has no bounds and accepts nothing short of victory no matter how it's achieved. Unscrupulous is not in their dictionary.
All this along with a president who squandered his actual mandate given to him by voters in 2008 and particularly from the perspective of progressives by continuing Bush policies or expanding them on the wars, achieving a less than satisfactory health care reform package and the siding with Wall Street in the bailout of the financial industry; the latter being seen legitimately as the perpetrators of the recession that has resulted in the "banksters" being made well at the expense of the tax payer. Then add in an inadequate stimulus package that produced too few new jobs and failed to stem the rise in unemployment.
Meanwhile the weak kneed Democrats in Congress, even with sizable majorities in the House and particularly in the Senate where forty one Republican senators along with a few "blue dog" Democrats held the Senate hostage and were allowed to dictate the outcome of all legislative proposals. The Democratic majority failed to modify the rules on the filibuster that emboldened the Republican minority to effectively kill or water down any potential for real reform on health care, realize formidable regulation of the financial industry or provide a strong stimulus package on infrastructure investment that would have significantly reduced unemployment and boosted the economy.
So Republicans won on Tuesday essentially by default, not because of the positive proposals they have to offer. And they also weren't the Democrats that failed to "deliver the goods".
The next two years should be interesting and from here it looks like a surefire prescription for stalemate and gridlock. Obama talks of cooperation and compromise with the newly emboldened Republicans. Mean while they talk of "no compromise" with him and the rest of the Democrats in Congress as they gloat in victory believing they have a "mandate" given to them by the people. Oh yeah!
Such is not the means or the formula for governing under divided leadership. Expect things to worsen.