The 2020 election did not live up to the projections of many Democratic pollsters and strategists.
The predicted landslide did not materialize and Democrats lost seats in the House. That means that in 2022, Democrats will defend a tiny majority in the House – a majority they are almost certain to lose in a midterm election if Biden is the final winner. The Democrats have done well. But not so well.
Nonetheless, Nancy Pelosi in the days following the election reportedly said Democrats “have a mandate!” But do they do it?
Consider what constitutes a democratic victory given the standard handed down to us by the pundits and politicians on the left. According to the current account, the legitimacy of a president’s electoral victory depends on the number of votes he receives through the “popular vote”. In other words, when it comes to votes from the entire national population, the candidate with a majority – or a plurality, depending on the standard used – must be declared the winner.
At the moment, it looks like the popular vote isn’t exactly screaming ‘landslide’ for the alleged winner, Biden, no matter how you look at him. Biden’s popular election tally in 2020 – as in most presidential elections – failed to secure much more than a simple majority. This time it came in slightly above 51%, according to government figures.
In other words, nearly half of those who voted voted against Biden.
It is only in Washington that anyone could see this as a “mandate” to govern in the way the Democrats want. The US Senate, of course – no matter how the elections in Georgia go – will be roughly evenly divided. In the House of Representatives, Democrats will win, at best, 51% of all seats.
The consent of the governed?
The vulgar version of democratic theory generally used by Washington politicians and the American news media states that any party (or coalition of parties) that receives a majority of the vote has the consent of the governed.
Yet “the governed” do not only include those who voted in elections. This is problematic enough that the 51% who voted for the winners can decide on the 49% who voted for someone else. But in this scenario, we’re not just talking about the people who voted. After all, it’s not just active voters who are subject to the regime’s laws and diktats.
So, how many “governed” voted for Joe Biden?
At the same time, around 22% of the entire population voted for Donald Trump. This means that 53% of the “governed” voted for someone other than Trump or Biden, or did not vote at all. It also means that around 75% of the population did not vote for Biden.
It is difficult to see this as a case where “the people” approve of the agenda of the Democratic Party – or any party.
Some might object to this on the grounds that I included children in the total. Of course, some smallre Left-wing Democrats insist that children should indeed have the right to vote. And given that today’s kids will be paying billions of dollars in interest on today’s national debt, it’s not as if kids aren’t relevant. But for the sake of argument, let’s include only the adult population among the “governed”.
According to Federal Register, the “estimated voting age population” in the United States in 2019 was 255 million. These are only people over 18 years old.
What proportion of the adult population voted for Joe Biden?
The answer is 31%, or less than a third. The total for Donald Trump was 29%, according to the official account. This means that almost 40% of eligible voters voted for someone else or did not vote at all. It also means that nearly 69% of Americans of voting age did not vote for Biden.
So even if we define ‘the governed’ or ‘the people’ as just adults – most of whom presumably pay taxes, by the way – then neither Biden nor Trump has even managed to achieve plurality, much less. a majority. The plurality of these American adults chose to vote for none of these candidates.
In the current American electoral system, of course, it is clearly not necessary to obtain a majority of the popular vote to win. the legal the winner is the one who obtains the most electoral votes, regardless of the number of eligible voters who participate. Many presidents have won the presidency – for example, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy – without ever winning a majority of the votes cast.
Yet the popular narrative behind pundits and politicians’ call for democracy is that winners get moral legitimacy – not to be confused with legal authority – by “obtaining the most votes”. We find, however, that more often than not a majority of the adult population – and a askew majority of total population – never votes for the winner.
Additionally, there is no reason to assume that those who voted for the winner all did so for the same reason. Did the tens of millions of Biden or Trump voters all vote with identical political preferences in mind? It is clear that they do not and did not. Thus, there can be no warrant, and it would be absurd to conclude that it is equal possible that the electoral winner, faced with such a large and diverse electoral population, can “represent” their voters in a meaningful way.
But the old myths of democracy are hard, and winners of contests like the 2020 elections will predictably make their victories as a type of democratic mandate while presenting themselves as the instrument of “the will of the people.” Many Americans will believe them.
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