Let's not pretend there's a Trump 'mandate'
© Getty Images

I looked up "mandate" on dictionary.com. The definition reads: "a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative."

ADVERTISEMENT
Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE and his surrogates have declared that the country has given them a mandate. But when you lose the popular vote by more than 200,000, it's pretty hard to claim that the public has given you its blessing.

Ironically enough, back on Election Day in 2012, Donald Trump tweeted: "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."

For once, he and I agree.

Yet it's amazing how fast such criticisms went away after Trump eked out his Electoral College victory.

Instead, we heard nonsense claims about a "popular wave," which, sadly enough, the news media immediately embraced. This is not much of a surprise, considering that that same media has often embraced the Trump lexicon — e.g., inserting the word "temporary" in front of Trump's proposed Muslim ban, even though it was not at all temporary in nature; using the tepid-sounding "locker-room talk" as opposed to "boasts about sexual assault"; never using terms such as "bigot" or "white nationalist," which would've accurately characterized Trump and his surrogates; or, as Mike Pesca has frequently pointed out, employing the term "pivot" when they should've been saying "lie" or "contradiction."

Now our language is once again being subjected to the same sort of Orwellian torture, stretching the term "mandate" so that it somehow means what it doesn't actually mean.

Can you imagine if this situation were reversed — if Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump mocks 'elites' at campaign rally Trump backs down in rare reversal Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE had clawed out an Electoral College victory while losing the popular vote?

We know from his debate response to Chris Wallace that Trump himself likely would've refused to concede, but what about other Republicans?

Do you think they would agree that she had a mandate for her proposals?

Somehow, I doubt it. They'd be screaming bloody murder about the Electoral College and the "rigged" system.

Well, as it turns out, the system was rigged — in favor of Trump. As I pointed out in The Hill just before the election, it was "conceivable that Comey's letter could shift just enough voters in the swing states to give Trump wins in all of them."

That turned out to be exactly the case (with Pennsylvania being a surprise swing state).

In fact, Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by less than 120,000 votes combined. There's little doubt that had she not had to deal with FBI interference, she would've pulled those states in, as well as some others, such as Florida, which she lost by about 120,000 votes as well, out of more than 9 million cast.

Had she won without the popular will, no one with a fifth-grade education and above would buy that GOP leaders would be welcoming her and her agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Ky.), for one, would be promising more obstruction for the incoming administration.

Instead, as reported by The Hill, he's using the election as impetus for repealing ObamaCare and other Obama administration measures.

In fact, his deputy, Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council Senators question Afghanistan commander nominee on turning around 17-year war MORE of Mississippi, even went so far as to say that he would "hope that members of the Democratic Party are looking at the election results" and learning from them. Did he and his colleagues not notice that more Americans chose Hillary Clinton?

Can we put them on the record as stating that the popular will of the people doesn't matter?

It took a quirk in our system (the Electoral College), an extremely divided country and a handoff from the FBI for Trump to win the "election."

That's no mandate.

If there's a mandate for anything, it's to change the system and get rid of the Electoral College. In fact, when Gallup polled Americans on it in 2013, 63 percent of us said that we'd scrap it for a straight popular vote. After all, it's an anti-democratic, anachronistic flaw in our system that has caused the will of the electorate to be abandoned five times now.

And this last time was a disaster.

Rosenfeld is an educator and historian who has done work for Scribner, Macmillan and Newsweek and contributes frequently to The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.