Ignore the Media: Remember the Forgotten “Mandate” and Our Window of Opportunity

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

If the media says that Joe Biden’s success was a mandate from the American people, so, too was the Republicans’ successes throughout the nation

I asked a simple question of my wonderful colleagues on RED + BLACK this weekend: if we were forced to choose between having President Trump in the White House another 4 years but must lose control of state assemblies across the nation and thus forfeit 10 years of gains by Republicans, or lose the White House but control much of the next 10 years of policy – which is better?

At first, it appears as a tough choice. And yes: there is certainly an argument to be made that it did not need to be a binary decision. However, if we must deal with pulling the political wishbone for policymaking throughout the nation, conservatives certainly got the better end of the tug-of-war.

Amid the jubilance of the political left over long-coming presidential wins in places such as Georgia and Nevada due to ongoing demographic shifts is a lost point: increasingly more Americans continue to select Republican-led policies – and thus, afford conservatives more control of American politics for years to come.

Chief among this is the stark contrast of presidential results to the control of state assemblies in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – all battleground states that both caused the Trump campaign angst throughout the fall, yet maintained Republican control after November 3. Now, conservatives are primed once again to control the post-2020 census maps for legislative and congressional districts in most key states, providing an opportunity to ensure that balanced perspectives are debated against far-left proposals including providing non-Americans the ability to vote in our elections. Other widely-discussed (yet ultimately rejected) positions after November 3 –by those including the Democrats’ top-of-the-ticket candidate himself – also included the notion of “defunding the police”. In California – a state as diverse as any in the nation – voters both overwhelmingly selected Joe Biden for president and outright rejected overturning 1996’s Proposition 209 banning racial “discrimination and preferences” in education, government contracting, and publicly-funded hiring.

Most would rather not say it, but it is true: even if the Republican candidate for president lost re-election, the viewpoint that Republicans are on the right side of issues including neighborhood safety, school choice, and economic growth carried the day. Polling showed this, including Mr. Trump’s 19% exit polling with Black men and 9% exit polling with Black women.  This should not be a surprise, however. Most Black voters – even Democrats – want expanded school choice despite Biden’s stated position opposing this desire. Most urban residents support good policing while also understanding the need for fair police tactics. They know that without these items, it is harder for their children to be safe, their families to be prepared for the future, and their communities to be rebuilt. Even the left agrees: Trump and Republicans were seen favorably regarding the economy, even despite job contractions in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. As a result, voters across partisan lines kept Republican majorities in place (and flipped several US House seats.) Further still, US Senate races that were deemed “lost” just weeks prior in North Carolina and Maine remained red.

Voters across America wanted to ensure that lawmakers got the point. It is one that conservatives must understand as well: losing the White House is a hard pill to swallow for Republicans collectively, but the mandate given to conservatives collectively for the coming years is an opportunity that must not be overlooked.

If there is anything that the unrest, frustrations, and debates of 2020 have shown us, it is that Americans have increasingly become fatigued with the ongoing status quo of policies from Washington, DC and local officials (notably in urban centers). These dynamics, uninterrupted, have failed to address the issues facing us and, thus, have failed to provide ongoing, empowering, and uplifting laws. 2020 has been one heck of an interruption. Parents have gained new insights into the educational models of their children due to ongoing school closings and disconnects due to COVID-19. Now, they are less likely to continuously pour millions into broken school systems that have yielded diminishing results for kids since the mid-20th century. Business leaders have watched the ongoing hypocrisy of governors such as California’s Newsom and Michigan’s Whitmer as their lifelong dreams teeter on the brink of collapse. Now, they are less likely to grant long-stretching powers to the executive that contravene constitutional respect, a sentiment echoed by Justice Samuel Alito earlier this week.  Minorities frustrated with second-class treatment in their communities for decades have protested in the streets of urban centers – almost exclusively run by Democrats – demanding constitutional law-and-order while making their thoughts known to mayors from Pittsburgh to Portland.

Americans collectively may have marginally said “no” to Trump, yet they continue to say “yes” to many of the policies Trump advanced along with Republicans over the past several years. These policies have brought about more hope, more opportunity, and more access than many Americans have had in years. We cannot overlook the chance at shaping another decade in the 21st century through them.

The mandate given to Republicans at the state and federal levels is clear: the attempts at policy shifts by the left is being rejected by more Americans than ever before. The sentiment of ensuring healthcare coverage for all Americans is a goal for all of us – especially during this pandemic – but the pursuit of the budget-busting “Medicare-for-All” plans of AOC and others is a non-starter. The sentiment of a cleaner environment is a focus for all of us, but the “New Green Deal” remains a failing policy that threatens both better and cleaner jobs in Pennsylvania and our national sovereignty from geopolitical pressures due to imported oil. After years of apathetic voting patterns and policy disengagement, more Americans are paying attention – and as they do, they see that conservative positions are better for their everyday lives. Even without the White House, conservatives are primed to deepen connections with emerging constituencies, sharpen the articulation of our policy positions, and strengthen our political positioning to ensure implementation of laws that empower all Americans. Even if the mainstream media chooses to ignore this call-to-action in their celebration of Biden’s “three-strikes-and-you’re-in” presidential campaign and Harris’ historic accomplishment, it behooves conservatives not to overlook this mandate – especially as windows of opportunity remain starkly open.