Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mandate of Who?

Up until the 2004 election, the only context in which I'd heard the word 'mandate' used was Might and Magic 6: Mandate of Heaven. Immediately after he won the election, Bush claimed that by reelecting him, the people had reaffirmed his policies, most notably on Iraq. I think Roger Simon sums up my view the best, making some good points and pointing to a National Annenberg Election Survey pointing to what Sid Meier called War Weariness.
Also, while I certainly don't dispute that Bush won the last election, people voted for him for all sorts of reasons. Some people didn't want to switch presidents during wartime. Others liked and trusted him more than his opponent. Others agreed with his positions on gay marriage and abortion. Others felt his values were the same as their values. And some endorsed his invasion and occupation of Iraq. There were a lot of reasons that people voted for George Bush. But to pick just one of them and say the public ratified his Iraq policy by re-electing him seems to be stretching the facts.
Ok, I told you that story to tell you this one: Democrats have been criticized for obstructing progress on policies the republican party wants. The tight party discipline has ensured republican bills success without democrat support, rendering compromise unnecessary. I was expecting the GOP to run wild with changes for the next two years. Suddenly, hope came from an unexpected source. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced that "President Bush's bid to restructure Social Security may have to wait until next year."
...with polls showing widespread skepticism of Bush's proposal and some Republicans opposed to the approach, GOP leaders signaled yesterday that they may have no choice but to put off action.
I view the news with relief. Not because I'm fanatically against reforming social security, but this is the first evidence that Bush will not simply run the show. For the last few months I'd gotten the impression that in his second term, President Bush would do what he thought best, evidence/public opinion/international opinion be damned. And public opinion is making it pretty clear that privitized social security accounts are not what they want. Today's statement was a nice wake-up call that he is only the head of the executive branch. We need to remember that his role is primarily to enforce the laws set in place by the legislators. That's not to say that he doesn't have enormous influence on the course of things in America. With House Majority Leader Tom DeLay keeping strict party lines and republican house and senate, there's no question of if. But he's still just in charge of one branch, his whims are not law. He is not an emperor.


Post a Comment

<< Home