Corn: There is No Mandate

Let's get one thing straight: there is no mandate. No matter what Dick Cheney claims. Say you asked 100 people whether they wanted a beer that tastes great or one that is less filling and 51 chose the former and 48 went for the latter, no bartender would call that a "mandate" for the tasty brew. The national vote split the same way. Nearly half of the electorate rejected Bush's leadership, his agenda, his priorities; from Eminem to the chairman of Bank of America to 48 Nobel laureates to union workers to gangbangers who joined anti-Bush get-out-the-vote efforts in swing states. Nearly half of the voting public sided with those who had concluded that Bush had caused the deaths of over 1,100 American GIs and literally countless Iraqis (maybe 100,000) for no compelling reason. Nearly half said no to his rash actions and dishonest justifications. Nearly half backed the campaign that argued that Bush had misrepresented the war in Iraq as part of the effort against al Qaeda and Islamic jihadism. Nearly half desired better and more honest leadership. Nearly half knew that Bush has led the country astray. But nearly half does not lead to much in a winner-take-all system.

In his first post-campaign speech, Bush vowed he would "work" to gain the trust of Kerry supporters in order to heal the divisions caused by this election. But during the campaign, Bush repeatedly mischaracterized Kerry's positions and distorted his words. He won by mocking Kerry and hurling false charges against him. Bush could have endeavored to maintain a serious and somber discourse on the most pressing issues and challenges we face as a nation. Instead, he resorted to cheap shots and disinformation (which I have chronicled extensively in my blog at

But complaining about Bush's tactics won't help Democrats and the opposition to Bush. The Democrats are in a hole, especially in the Senate. They should not, though, fall into the tired old debate of turn-left versus turn-right. They must think about how to field candidates and promote issues that will resonate in the Midwest and Southwest. They need only expand the Blue State Nation — much of which is solidly anti-Bush — by a state or two to have a majority. That task will not be easy, but it is not beyond reach. In the meantime, they should be encouraged that the nation is so split. It is a sign that the Red-Blue battle — a war of culture, ideology, politics and psychology — is far from over, and that Bush won the election but has not won over the country. Let the great divide in America continue.

David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine, is author of the best-selling The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception and a Fox News contributor. He has a blog at