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A Mandate, Mr. Speaker? Really?

“Winning” in a democracy is assumed to mean that you won more votes than the other candidate or party. And so, when Speaker John Boehner writes an open letter to the president calling 2012 “a status quo election in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected,” you might reasonably guess that Republicans in the House of Representatives won more votes than Democrats.

You would be wrong. Gerrymandering is now so out of control that Democrats won more than a million more votes for Congress than Republicans (1,039,907 as of this morning, Dec. 4) and yet will have 33 fewer members than Republicans in the next Congress, according to data analyzed by Cook Political Report’s congressional elections expert David Wasserman.

As the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein put it (disparaging Boehner’s claims of a popular mandate):

[t]he fact is that 2012 was a Democratic rout, in which Democrats got more votes than Republicans at the presidential, Senate and House levels. Boehner remains speaker because redistricting saved his majority. Nothing more.  That means Republicans are in a far weaker position than they were in 2011. And Boehner knows it.

No issue was more critical to that 2012 election defeat than taxes or whether America wanted more governance of, by and for bankers like Mitt Romney. The Republican Party has disavowed Romney as a loser while continuing to embrace his nonexistent arithmetic and strong policy preferences for the rich. John Boehner needs to realize that the Republican party (which lost a net 8 House seats in 2012) will continue to shrink so long as it stands more for bankers than for working people.

Or, to put it more simply, instead of focusing on apple pie over Thanksgiving, we’d all be better off if John Boehner had not ignored the humble pie he was served up by the voters on Nov. 6.

It's time for Speaker Boehner and the Republican party to stop digging in on an agenda that working people overwhelmingly rejected. It's time to let Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% expire, reject benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and invest in policies that grow the economy and create jobs.

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