Sunday, January 23, 2005

What is a mandate?

Over the past few months this word, mandate, has been thrown around rather liberally and I'm not sure if everyone gets the original concept behind it. For the direct answer I'm going to go to my Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary. So, to page 1,167 starting with "manageress" and ending with "mandible":

man-date (man'dât), n., v -dat.ed, -dat-ing. --n. 1. a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative: The president had a clear mandate to end the war 2. a command from a superior court or official to a lower one. 3. an authoratative order or command: a royal mandate 4. (in the League of Nations) a commission given to a nation to administer the government and affairs of a former Turkish territory or German colony. 5. a mandated territory or colony. 6. Rom. Cath. Ch. an order issued by the pope, esp. on commanding the preferment of a certain person to a benefice 7. Roman and Civil Law. a contract by which one engages gratuitously to perform services for another. 8. (in modern civil law) any contract by which a person undertakes to perform services for another. 9. Roman Law. an order or decree by the emperor, esp. to govorners of provinces. --v.t. 10. to authorize or decree (a particular action, as by the enactment of law. 11. to order or require; make manatory: to mandate sweeping changes in the election process. 12. to consign (a territory, colony, etc.) to the charge of a particular nation under a mandate. [1540-50; { L mandâtum, n. use of neut. of mandâtus, ptp. of madâre to commission, lit., to give into (someone's) hand. See MANUS, DATE1]

Okay, so why on earth would I want to include all 12 definitions in the biggest dictionary I could find? Quite simply to show that there is no equivocation to quantity in the word mandate. This means that by winning the election by any margin whatsoever, President George W. Bush has a mandate. Does his mandate grow stronger or waeker by the actual quantity of people that voted for or against him? No. It contains a simple positive or negative. There is no such thing as a measure to mandate. You either have it or you don't.

This next part may require a little bit of thought. It includes some asumptions and the understanding of the word mandate. I know it sounds like such a simple word, but the United States has seen fit to butcher this word to suit their needs. The only true definitions for the word are directly above you. Anything else is a fabrication of smoke an mirrors.

Assuming that there is only a yes and no to a mandate you can still have a stronger or weaker mandate when speaking of collectives. The house and the senate are collectives. They hold several mandates joined or disjoined together into separate political parties. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have mandates (according to definition 1) in the government. Currently, Republicans have more individual mandates in both the house and the senate. This could be interpreted as a stronger mandate, a greater mandate, a larger mandate than the democratic party.

The part that I'm trying to elude to here is that total votes for president do not matter in the least. There is absolutely only one way the make President Bush's mandate any stronger, greater or larger is to have more Republican senators or congressmen. At this point it still only strengthens the Republican party's mandate, not really the president's mandate.

I can't stress the votes thing enough. One extra vote is a mandate. Ask Christine Gregoire if she's got a mandate in Washington State today. Is it a strong mandate? Is it a weak mandate? Does it matter? A mandate is a mandate, period. If It's President Bush or Governor Gregoire (if appeals fail) it's still a mandate, like it or not.

...almost forgot something I've been wanting to say for a while:


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