The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



The not-so elusive Mandate

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First off, full disclosure: Christie Pesavento is a friend of mine. That being said, I’m glad we have never sat down together for a good, long discussion on politics. Her latest Viewpoint column, “The elusive mandate”, trots out all the tired conservative talking points this side of Rush Limbaugh. I cannot take her opinion seriously when she starts out by claiming that the principles of the Democratic Party are “bigger government, spineless foreign policy and increased spending on ineffective social programs”. After the past 8 years of Republican futility, in which George W. Bush’s administration ran up trillions of dollars towards the national debt, it is impressive that Christie can call the Democrats the party of bigger government without a hint of irony. This trope that Democrats are weak on foreign policy is the stuff that Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich sustain their political livelihoods off of, but it has no basis in reality. Barack Obama and the Democrats are advocating a smarter foreign policy. How can the world take America seriously if we just spew vitriol to our enemies and threaten to rain bombs on those who disagree with us? Somewhere along the line we lost the notion of diplomacy from our national discourse, and hopefully the Obama administration can deal with the international community in a strategic and reasoned way, not one which drives us into unnecessary war and threatens to completely de-stabilize our economy. Ineffective social programs? One of the biggest messes right now is lame-duck President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. While noble in intent, its level of execution and planning has rendered NCLB not only ineffective but harmful to the American educational system, with its overemphasis on standardized testing driving teachers and middle class students out of American public schools.

I agree with Pesavento’s claim that “all any Democratic nominee had to do was avoid any fatal missteps and the election would be gift-wrapped and delivered directly into his or her hands.” The Republican Party has proven over the past eight years that it is reactionary, small-minded, and harmful for the well-being of the American people. Why is there “widespread resentment towards the previous administration”? Because President Bush and his policies were bad for America, and the electorate decided not to vote in another candidate who shared the previous administration’s failed beliefs in government.

As for her thoughts on President-Elect Obama and his campaign, I can only say this: he was voted into office with an overwhelming majority of electoral votes. Say what you will about our “messianic leader” but in spite of your claims to the contrary, the truth remains that Americans clearly are on the same page with Obama when it comes to governing philosophy. Not only was Obama elected in by a wide margin, but the American people also voted in a largely Democratic Congress to help enact his policies and the policies of the Democratic Party. America is seeking a change in direction and by a vast margin shunning the Republican Party while embracing the principles of the Democrats. Yet it seems that Pesavento is asking us to believe her and the foundering conservative movement over our own lying ballots.

If there is one thing that Pesavento is absolutely right about, it is that history has not been kind to presidents who overstep their authority. One can only imagine how future scholars will evaluate the presidency of George W. Bush, though our tangled foreign policy engagements and collapsing economy can give us just a taste of how harshly his administration will be judged. But unlike Bush, who was only brought into office by a Supreme Court decision after an almost evenly-split election, President-Elect Obama has been given the keys to drive the American state on the road back to prosperity by a wide majority of the electorate. Pesavento, I wish you and your conservative ilk would quit telling the American people that we really did not mean what we voted for when we elected Barack Obama to the Executive Branch. It is clear that America does want Obama and the Democrats to implement their agenda, and by a large margin has granted them the authority to do so.

Riyath Mallahi


Dillon Hall

Nov. 11