If you are a politician and you somehow stumble upon this blog, let me give you some really good advice that you of course will reject out of hand because you live in Fairyland while the rest of us scrap it out here in the real world: That mandate you think you have when you win an election? It's vapor. It's nothing. It does not exist. I really mean this, and I mean this regardless of party affiliation.
Okay, I'll concede that maybe, just maybe, if you win your race 70%-30%, you may have a mandate for some of your (probably ridiculous) ideas, but that really only applies to your local constituency. I don't care if you have 70% of some legislative body under your control, because you probably won a good portion of those seats 51%-49%.
This is a centrist country. Perhaps instead of going all goofy and kowtowing to the noisy extremist wing of your party when you win, you could stay here in reality and remember where you live. Did you hear me? This is a centrist country. But no, you read the fact that you won as a mandate for your dumb platform, rather than as a rejection of the other guys who didn't govern from the center after the last election because they thought they had a mandate for their dumb platform. Honestly, what is with you people in politics? You can be maddeningly daft.
Even the blowout elections in this country are like 55-45, which means—pay attention here—that damn near half of the people don't like you or your harebrained schemes. Two years ago on Election Day it was “a great day for Democrats.” As expected, they spent the next two years acting as if We The People (hey, that's a catchy little phrase) had just all stepped in line behind them and would just blindly go along with whatever leftist crap they decided to shovel at us. Likewise, all I hear these days is how the American people have sent a message that we want whatever plank a bunch of doughy white Republican men and (suddenly sometimes surprisingly hot yet almost inevitably vacant-minded) women serve up.
If you're a politician you've likely long since stopped reading this because it doesn't serve your worldview. However, on the off chance one of you reading this is or has some desire to be a politician, take my words to heart: This is a centrist nation. We're so damn centrist that you'll get whiplash as we swing from one side of the middle to the other. America is the great tennis match, and our whims are the ball: Back and forth we go from one side to the other, never getting all that far away from the net in the middle, and never spending all that much time on either side.
Of course you have to give your lunatic fringe a little bit of love in order to get them to not stay home on Election Day, but for the most part, those people have already drunk your Kool Aid. You've got them; they're not going to vote for the other side. You know who's gonna flip-flop on you and run you right out of office? Those of us in the middle. I'll turn on you at the drop of a hat these days, sometimes even just to send you a message that I don't like how far away from the center you're drifting. We centrists follow the Teddy Roosevelt maxim of “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” which is all the more apt given how this standard-bearer of the Republican party had no shyness about going against his own party's platform (and God bless him for having the stones to do so.) We middle-of-the-roaders don’t usually make the fuss your constituents on the far edge make, but we don't just have a big stick, we are the big stick.
So don't waste all of our time trying to do the exact opposite of what the last bunch did. Deal in the reality of the world we live in, and come up with some good ideas that benefit us all without punishing any of us too much. Don't try to rape the rich or starve the poor, don't stand too far on either side of the floor (I went all Jesse Jackson there with the rhyming), just understand that even though a majority of us may have punched your ticket, a whole lot of us probably look at you as the lesser of two evils at the moment, and when you screw it up—as you inevitably will—we'll be ready to choose your opponent who will similarly be not what we're looking for, but better than the repugnant partisan you've proven yourself to be instead of the statesman we want. Don’t be surprised when that happens.