Let’s skip the great mandate debate

Does President-elect Joe Biden have a mandate? Who cares?

Every four to eight years, the election of a new president is followed by a debate: Does the new chief executive have a “mandate” from voters to do exactly what he promised on the campaign trail? Members of the winning party always claim a mandate. Members of the losing party always dispute that claim. The underlying idea is that the voting results themselves are somehow not enough permission to govern as intended — that some magical extra ingredient is needed.

Sure enough, Biden moved quickly to assert his mandate from voters during his Saturday night presidential acceptance speech in Delaware, saying the electorate had made clear it wants aggressive action on everything from COVID-19 to the economy to climate change to a more bipartisan attitude in Washington, D.C.


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