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Mandate Schmandate 

GOP can thank W. and the Dems

Republicans, local, state and national, have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Through almost no effort of their own, they managed to sweep offices from the US Senate to our own county commission. I'm not downplaying any of the candidates (well, perhaps a few of them), but we all have to face the fact that they didn't exactly do this all by themselves.

I think Republicans are well aware of this fact, judging from the shocked elation that took place across the country on Election Night. Unlike Election Night eight years ago when Republicans had spent months hyping their "Contract with America" hoping to sweep the nation, this year the Republicans were as surprised as the rest of us by their widespread victories.

Ironically, they owe their successes to two sources: the President and the Democrats. It's obvious how George W. managed to do his part. Far from being the guy who didn't even win the popular election in 2000 (no crime in my opinion; I'm behind the Electoral College whether it works in my favor or not), the President is now a formidable political force. His leadership has inspired trust in the public since the 9-11 attacks, and most Americans appreciate his responses, which have seemed genuine, passionate, measured and appropriate (now, whether his responses are those things is another thing entirely, but the point remains that the public is generally pleased with his speeches and actions). Pundits speculate that Americans wanted W. to have the power to fight terrorism as he desires, which would explain why voters opted for a Republican Congress.

So while the Republicans should send pumpkin pies to the White House this holiday season, they should also remember their erstwhile foes as they deliver the baked goods this week. The Democrats had at least as much to do with the Republican victories as the Republicans themselves. Surely, some of the Democratic candidates must have had a difficult time even voting for themselves.

The Democrats utterly failed to run an effective, or even an ineffective, campaign. After Plan A (the "we're against the Republicans, but we pretty much think the same way" platform) failed, the Democrats switched to Plan B, which, as we all know from watching movies and television, consists of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. From local to national elections, Democrats lacked organization, perhaps counting on a discombobulated public to vote for whichever party had cooler-looking names on the ballot (i.e., "Erskine" and "Parks"). They never formulated a platform against the Republicans' solid stance on The Safety Of The Country. In times of peace, the Democrats have always found it easy to make the public hate those hard-hearted Republican bastards. When it looks like war, though, most people want to see those bastards running the show.

And that's exactly what we've got at this point, like it or not. With control of the White House and Congress, the Republicans should be able to accomplish what they think they need to in terms of security measures (though whether all of these are a good idea is entirely debatable). What I'm tired of hearing about, however, is the "mandate" Republicans say they got from the election.

Naturally, I first heard about this mandate from the mouth of the ultra-Republican himself, Rush Limbaugh. Why I torture myself with his program is beyond me, but somehow every few weeks I manage to catch 15 minutes of it, just enough to make me red and angry. You needn't presume that I'm a pinko just because I don't like Rush, by the way. I chose to err on the side of conservatism in this past election myself, but man, is Limbaugh one pompous windbag.

On the program I heard, Rush raised the issue that the Republicans had received a mandate to do whatever they wanted and that the Democrats had better be flexible and adjust. But there is no such mandate, and if the Republicans choose to act as though there is one, they'll be voted out of office next time around.

The only thing Americans agree on is the need for safety and security. We voted Republican in most cases because we thought that party was most capable of providing for those needs. You can bet that the minute they begin pushing their Moral Majority, religious extremist agendas, they'll lose many of the voters they won over in this election.

And what else will be accomplished? Well, they'll give the Democrats something to run against next time around. Sure, the Democrats aren't too good when faced with fiscal conservatism and support of the military. But start talking social conservatism, and I guarantee they'll be ready to jump into the ring.

Despite the fact that I leaned toward conservatism this time around, I'm not sure about the unchecked legislative and executive branches we now have to deal with. The Republicans are in a powerful position. The coming year will tell us quite a bit about how they plan to use this power and whether their accomplishments will last beyond their reign.

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