Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


  1. I’m pretty sure that the only mandate out there in any election is, “Don’t screw up the country, jerkweed”.

  2. The idea that a majority would ask for reasonable acknowledgement of a mandate and govern somewhat within what they were offered died in mid-late January, 2009. There’s no such thing as a “real” mandate, never was. The concept is instead a communication aid between opposing electoral factions that can be used to achieve some comity/detente in order to pursue legislation in the public interest, somewhat guided by a reasonable interpretation of preferences expressed in the recent voting. That’s all it is – a conceptual tool for governance in a party system. The alternative is (unrestrained) pursuit of whatever goal the majority chooses, regardless of the wishes of the minority. After 2008, the possibility of a detente between the two factions now controlling government was definitively eliminated. It was eliminated because the defeated faction refused to outline reasonable terms for the nature of the mandate (again: a negotiating fiction) they would acknowledge had been earned by the new majority. Whatever one’s view of the governing approach the administration then pursued, an undeniable fact is that they came in the context of a rejection of the mandate-recognition model of relations between a new majority and its opposition. From here forward, the model of relations will be based on an assumption that majorities pursue their aims, and minorities are only as relevant as their numbers make them.

    I predict that the time when the recognition of a mandate when one can reasonably be claimed to have been won (always in reality a fiction!) was routine will be yet longed for by many on both sides. Winter 2009, given the situation the country faced in that moment, constituted a possibly historic breaking point (which is not to say more or as significant as other such moments) in the way factions in the political branches of the United States government relate to each other.

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