On Monday, failed vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan falsely claimed he and Mitt Romney came up short due to unexpected "urban" turnout, adding that issues were irrelevant, despite all polling evidence to the contrary.
On Tuesday, the far-right congressman went further, telling ABC that President Obama doesn't have a mandate to pursue his own policy agenda because voters "re-elected House Republicans." Asked specifically, "So, you don't think he has a mandate?" Ryan replied:
"I don't because then they would have put Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House of Representatives. See I think these ideas that we talked about, I think they're popular ideas."
The obvious response to this is to point to the electoral reality. Obama won 332 electoral votes, and is only the second president of the last 10 to win 50% of the popular vote twice. In House races, most Americans backed Democratic candidates, not Republicans, but GOP officials gerrymandered district lines to make it almost impossible for Pelosi to take back the Speaker's gavel, even if a majority of the American electorate wanted a Democratic majority.
Ryan's argument, in other words, is pretty hard to take seriously. The re-elected president lacks a "mandate" because he only won a majority of the popular vote, a large majority of the electoral vote, and a majority of voters supported Democratic congressional candidates? Presidential mandates are now dependent on gerrymandered House district lines? C'mon.
But let's not miss the forest for the trees.
Ryan is making the case against a presidential mandate as a justification for obstructionism. His argument, in effect is, "The president may appear to have earned a mandate, but Republicans are inclined to pretend otherwise."
This isn't an attitude that will lead to progress over the next two years.