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Defining Obama's mandate
How much of the president-elect's agenda do voters want to enact?
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on't let Republicans tell you Barack Obama didn't win a mandate, said Jonathan Chait in The New Republic online. Conservatives insisted President Bush had a clear mandate when he won reelection with a much smaller margin of victory, and Bush certainly acted accordingly. Voters knew Obama planned to "make the tax code more progressive, reform health care, and the like," so Democrats should muster the courage to push that agenda.

Not so fast, said Ralph Reiland in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Obama won precisely 1 percentage point more of the popular vote than Bush did in 2004. The needle didn't budge from voters' "center-right ideological self-identification," so there's no call for "turning America into a European welfare state or beating our swords into plowshares" or pushing our coal plants into bankruptcy.

It's pointless to deny that Americans just voted for change, said actor Robert Redford in The Huffington Post. And part of that change "was to move away from the failed energy philosophy of 'drill, baby, drill' to a more farsighted strategy."

"Voters want change—Obama's campaign message," said Amity Shlaes in the New York Post. "But the Democratic Party is widening the definition of change by the hour." And just as they did under Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Great Depression, they'll use the financial crisis as justification for resurrecting government health care and other old parts of their social agenda that have nothing to do with the mortgage crisis.

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