Thursday, November 11, 2004

Mandate to be a statesman

Rick Horowitz crunched some numbers that help give us some perspective on Bush's mandate.
President Bush received more than 59.7 million votes; that's more votes than any presidential candidate has ever received, and 3.5 million more than John Kerry got. So I ask you: If winning by 3.5 million votes isn't a mandate, what is?

Well, how about winning by 7 million votes? The president's father did that back in 1988, against Michael Dukakis . . . More
The death of Yasar Arafat presents President George W. Bush with a challenge of taking his crippled credibility in the world and trying to be a statesman. But does he have an international mandate to do this? It's times like these that he needs to call on Colin Powell, who has earned such a mandate in the world. He may also call on people like Khalil E. Jahshan, who wrote for Wineskins about Arab-American relations.


At 7:20 AM, Blogger David U said...

Just one person's opinion here, but I am not concerned with President Bush's "credibility" outside the United States. I trust him to do what he feels is in the best interest of our country, and I honestly feel like he is doing that. If outsiders from other countries don't approve, that is their option. He is not their President. He is not trying to meet the standards of the EU when making decisions that concern the future of our country. I am thankful for that!

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Interesting Statistics about the election:

The media will tell you that is was close: 51% Bush and 48% Kerry, with 1% going to "other". This was the simple popular vote, but that is misleading. Other statistics tell a completely different story:

State by state, it was 31 states for Bush, 19 for Kerry. That's 62% of the states for Bush, and 38% of the states of Kerry.

In terms of population of counties won, it was 150.9 million Bush, 103.6 million Kerry. That translates to 59.3% Bush. 40.7% Kerry.

But in terms of Square Miles of the USA won by County, it was 2.51 million for Bush, and only 511,700 for Kerry. This translates to a whopping 83.1% BUSH, AND 16.9% KERRY--- A FIVE-TO-ONE RATIO.

And that is why the map is almost completely red with a few dots of blue scattered in.

For example, look at California: The big cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley towns went for Kerry. Most of the rest of the state is Bush Country!!! Same for New York--where the cities of of NYC, Albany, and Buffalo went for Kerry, but most of the state of New York is actually BUSH country. And Pennsylvania, which was called for Kerry, is actually 90% for Bush--only the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh went for Kerry.

see link to map below.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Greg Taylor said...

The stats you mentioned may be true and accurate in themselves but have nothing to do with telling how much support comparatively went to Bush. Land mass? What is this, Manifest Destiny? Counting up counties then jumping over to their population and comparing percentages? Doesn't create an accurate perception of support no matter who you support. Percentages of states who chose Bush? Interesting but doesn't even begin to create a near objective picture. Stats like this make less sense than the electoral college.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Greg Taylor said...

The purpose of my posting Horowitz's article was to give historical perspective. If you read the piece, it shows perspective by comparison with past presidential elections.

What you are giving are disconnected stats that are true but have nothing to do with the issue of Bush's mandate. Presidents are not elected by land mass, by populations that happen to be in places where people vote (not those who actually vote), and comparisons of cities and rural. It makes no difference. These stats make less sense than the electoral college.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I'm concerned by the language of the President’s bipartisan outreach. In his extraordinary press conference a week ago, he said: “With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I'll reach out to everyone who shares our goals.” The phrase “who shares our goals” just sounds too much like “who agrees with me.”

Then there’s his use of the word “capital”, when asked if he felt more free upon re-election: “And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's wha happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.”

With the highest deficit ever created in a four-year term with a friendly Congress – created from a record surplus in the previous administration – I am uneasy with someone whose style is to spend a lot of capital, political or otherwise, earned from less than half of the electorate and only a little over half of the voting electorate. And “earned” is too strong a word. “Acquired by default” might better cover it.

Plus, I just don’t think any victorious candidate should be allowed to use the word “mandate” unless he/she has won by a landslide, and I define that as considerably more than 51% to 48%. “Sort-of- halfway- supported suggestion” should be substituted.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball said...

I must make a comment in response to David U's comment.

The United States, and its leadership, cannot afford to take an isolationist stance on "what is good for America." In this day and age, American cannot and will not survive on its own. There is so much interdependence on other nations, that ignoring them is done at our peril. In this sense, Bush needs to understand that yes, he does need some credibility in the world, or the whole grand experiment will come crashing down around his ears.

I am reminded of John Donne's quote in the front of Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls":

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

This is the attitude that the United States should take. What is good for the U.S. IS what is good for the rest of the world. As Christians realize more and more the connection we have with other Christians in other nations, I think the governments should listen, and see how everything is related and connected, and not seek our own advantage at the expense of others.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger David U said...

Greg, isn't it great when two brothers can say "I disagree with you" instead of "You are WRONG!" :) I disagree with you, which implies that I could be wrong.
Plus, I need to tell others out there who don't know us that this discussion could NEVER get in between us as brothers! Our relationship is bigger than this, because it is based on something deeper and bigger than this. Right? :)

Ok, having said that ( out come the gloves) I want to tell you that I VERY MUCH agree with your statement that says "what is good for the U.S. is what is good for the rest of the world". I think President Bush would agree with you 110%! I would never advocate seeking our own advantage at the expense of others, and I have never heard President Bush advocating that. You stated it as if it were already happening or had already been stated as policy. If you think that is what is happening now, then that is an opinion you are very free to have.......but that is all it is, an opinion. If like you, Bush had said "what is good for the U.S. is what is good for the rest of the world", how would the media have spun that? I guess where I disagree with you is this idea of "Credibility". If I told you that I had heard you weren't credible, wouldn't it matter to you WHO it was that you weren't credible TO? Getting back to your statement, I would rather him do what is "good" regardless of how it affected his credibility. Is that advocating becoming an island alone in the world? Of course NOT! It's about doing the right thing....or "good" things as you stated it....regardless of how your popularity or credibility is in some circles. I think he should always try and get along with other countries and nations, but not so he will be "credible". As a Christian, I sure wouldn't want some of the leaders of these other nations as my leader or president.......and some of them are viewed as being VERY credible by the standards or the world.

So, I think we agree more than we disagree....and I am still open to look at the situation and maybe change my mind. How's that?

Love you brother,

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Greg Taylor said...

Just to clarify . . . the Greg who commented and shows up as Greg is not me. When I comment it shows up as Greg Taylor. You can find out more about the other Greg by clicking on his link.

Having said that, I agree with his point. I also agree with your point, David, that doing good is the most important issue here. I just want us to realize that not everyone thinks Bush has done all good in the world, particularly in terms of how the war has been executed, the Kyoto initiative, and his attitude toward world organizations that depreciates our ability to live in a world neighborhood. So we are talking not about whether a person should just do good and not worry about what others think. At the heart, we're talking about the quality of the president's (and by extension all America) actions, whether it's good or not.

Closer to home for Christians, perceptions of Americans in some countries may now sour to the point that Americans find it more difficult to enter as missionaries. The ugly American all over again, and my Iranian neighbor confirms this feeling in his community and family that lives in Iran. This is anecdotal, but I want to refer you to another work that does more with the whole idea of the myth of American innocence. I've written some about the book in the blog and I have a review coming out in December's Christianity Today on Richard T. Hughes's Myths America Lives By that helps us come to grips with our responsibility in the world.

To me it's not an issue of whether we're doing good and not caring whether others think it's good or right. The issue is whether we're really doing good or not, and I don't believe in all cases we have done good in the world.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger john alan turner said...

I find it interesting that Christians in red areas and Christians in blue areas have such different perspectives on this issue. I also find it interesting that blue areas tend to be higher on the list of possible terrorist targets than red areas are.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I can actually see both sides here, which means that good points have been made by people with different perspectives: common goals but different ideas on how to achieve those goals.

Admittedly, I did not read the Horowitz article completely and attentively before posting earlier, only scanned it. So my comments may have been out of context for the discussion.

Now, as for the definition of a "mandate", consider the Presidential election as part of a whole, much larger election cycle.

Beginning in January, Republicans will hold a majority of power not just in the White House, but also in the Senate; the House of Representatives; the Supreme Court (conservatives, anyway--justices don't openly declare party affiliations); governorships of states; and legislatures of state governments (barely).

All this to say that the American public by a clear and convincing majority appear to prefer traditional, conservative-to-moderate 'family' values. And they apparently believe as a whole that Republicans better represent these values than Democrats, and so, elect them to public office proportionally.

Which is not to say that Republicans have a lock on moral issues or that all Democrats are evil. There are some bad, evil Republicans and there are some good decent Democrats. But overall, when you look at the entire country and election patterns over the last several years, it is undeniably clear that a majority of Americans prefer Republicans in positions of power and trust and policy. We're not just talking about the presidency here---see above.

And that would be my definition of a 'mandate'. Feel free to dispute---for it is the free exchange of ideas that makes the world a more enlightened place.


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