Someday people are going to recognize Heisenberg’s Principle of Politics.
Werner Heisenberg, you may recall, coined the “Uncertainty Principle” by arguing that the precise position of a particle can never be determined because in order to measure it we must change it.
Pollsters do the same thing. We saw it again with the exit polls. Somehow the pollsters never realize that when they “sample” public opinion, they are also changing it. More specifically, they are usually imposing their own values.
When a pollster asks voters what they think, they usually come on as a smart, savvy enlightened intellectual — i.e., a liberal. Now no one wants to embarrass himself by expressing some stupid conservative opinion. So people shade their views or lie — or just hang up the phone. For several election cycles pollsters have been underestimating the Republican vote because of this.
Now comes the exit polls, which supposedly had the beginnings of a Kerry landslide. It never occurs to pollsters that they tend to buttonhole people who look cooperative — women, educated people, people who don’t have that gruff conservative manner or a Republican scowl on their face. As a result, the pollsters added a little drama by calling the election the wrong way.
Now we see commentators doing the same thing, without apology. They’re “interpreting” the vote by announcing that voters really didn’t mean it — they were only voting for “values,” whatever that is — and that therefore President Bush doesn’t have a mandate. Instead, he must “reach across the aisle” and “move toward the center” in order to “bring us together.”
Does anybody remember commentators saying this when Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole with 49 percent of the vote? Or when he beat the first President Bush with 43 percent? I’ll pay $100 to anybody who can find a news clip expressing that opinion.
When Clinton won in 1992, he moved right ahead with his agenda — raising taxes, stimulating the economy through public works, and assigning his wife and Ira Magaziner to redesign the healthcare economy. Perot voters — who really handed Clinton the Presidency — were completely ignored. They wanted a balanced budget. Instead, they got more federal spending.
Clinton had something better than a mandate. He had a Congress that had been Democratic for about as long as anyone could remember.
But the bond market vetoed Clinton’s “infrastructure” spending, the budget deficit got worse, and Hillary Care went down in flames. If a presidency can be summed up in one sentence — as many historians say it can — Clinton’s should be this: “He gave us a Republican Congress.” Only after 1994 did Clinton become the “triangulator” between the new Republican majority and the old Democrats in Congress. That’s because he had already brought the Old Democrats down with him.
The people have spoken. They said one word: “Bush.” Actually, they said “Republican Senate” and “Republican Congress” as well. That’s all we need. It’s up to President Bush to make something out of that — and lord knows he will. I love the way he talks about “spending his political capital” but I would alter one word. He’s going to “invest” it, not spend it. We’re talking building a new future for the country.
When they’ve exhausted themselves arguing Bush doesn’t have a mandate, liberals turn around and say he’s a “lame duck.” That’s because Presidents often exhaust their mandate during the first administration and start to feel a backlash against their accomplishments in the second.
Well, I’ve got news for you. To all intents and purposes, this is President Bush’s first administration. The last four years were wasted in arguments about who really won the 2000 election and diddling with Jim Jeffords and the Republican “moderates” who suddenly found themselves wielding enormous, unearned power. Those days are over, too. When I hear Lincoln Chafee is talking about switching parties and becoming a Democrat, I say “Go get ’em, Lincoln!” You’ll be much happier over there.
President Bush has a chance to lay down the foundations of an Ownership Society, solidify the Republican stronghold on the future, and change the course of history. He can be another Reagan (and isn’t it wonderful how liberals are suddenly becoming nostalgic for Reagan, realizing what an important president he was?).
Who needs a mandate? We’ve got a majority. Let’s get ’em, George! They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
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