ELECTION 2010 MANDATE?

I was wrong.

I thought there would be parity in the election and that control of the House and Senate would remain unchanged. I was wrong.

I was wrong but I’m not surprised.

This is a confusing time  – the economy has rebounded but millions of new jobs have not appeared. It’s understandable that an impatience is growing. And, like a shot in the dark, the voters pulled the lever to switch it up.

But the winners and losers on Tuesday would be remiss if they thought this was some sort of referendum on anything other than a general unease. Republicans have begun speaking as if the “American people” had spoken and given them some sort of mandate.

There is no mandate.

If this election proves anything it’s that this country is not of a singular mind.

You can see evidence of this within the individual parties themselves:

I have seen Democrats eat each other alive for months. From MSNBC performance evalutations to The Huffington Posts daily attack on the President. Democrats blaming the President, of their own party, for the mistakes of past administrations.

I have seen Republicans struggle with their own fringe in the Tea Party and seen them worry about the publicity ambitions of Sarah Palin and the punditry of their very own network, Fox News.

So not even within their own parties is there agreement – so why should the nation at large be any different?

John Boehnner was bold enough to say today over at ABC:

“There seems to be some denial on the part of the president and other Democrat leaders of the message that was sent by the American people… You would think that the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies that they put forward the last 2 years.”

Aside from the fact that John Boehnner clearly thinks there are only 2 possible parties in this country he seems to have confused a mid-term congressional election for a Presidential Election. If he and I are viewing the same results from election night I would say the American people sent a very unclear message.

First let’s deal with the fact that no single politician oversees a purely partisan district or state – there are Democrats in Boehnner’s own district after all and there are Republicans out here in California. So let’s be a bit more reasonable in how we’re throwing the phrase “The American People” around. And given the sheer volume of ultra tight races I’d say the American people who voted are closely divided.

Second – many Americans stayed home.

There is no mandate in this country. None. Never will be – we’re a pluralistic society filled with 300+ million opinions, backgrounds and beliefs. So whenever a politician acts as if “the American people” have spoken with a singular voice they are being dishonest and hyperbolic.

So what does the election on Tuesday mean for the country?

It would behoove politicians to do the one thing that I think people do respond to – action.

We like leaders who do things, not just say things. We like seeing a direct line from rhetoric to decision. Oh and we don’t just like blind decisions – we do want them to be good decisions. We like solutions.

What we don’t want to see – or to be honest – what I don’t want to see is high school level politics – the “neener neener” approach that I have seen republicans use these last two years. Americans, real human beings, are hurting, they need attention, they do not need nor can they wait for some mythicial perfect solution that hangs like a carrot in the distance – they can not wait until 2012 because the rent is due next month.