March 27th, 2010
03:20 PM ET
March 27th, 2010
07:09 AM ET

Dear President Obama #432: The not so simple majority

Reporter's Note: Some of President Obama’s chief legislative victories have been won by the thinnest of margins. Which is one reason my stack of letters to the White House continues to grow thicker by the day.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A win is a win is a win. We all know that. But we all also know that some wins are better than others. A general who takes the hill but loses half of his troops in the process had better make sure that the high ground was worth it. A husband who out argues his wife by some tiny technicality is still facing a night on the sofa. And a president or political party that keeps winning legislative victories by razor thin margins is playing a dangerous game. Not merely because the stats suggest they are courting eventual failure (which they are,) but because every 51 percent victory leaves 49 percent in opposition to what was passed. And that’s not good.

We have seen so much of this kind of ruling in recent years. When Republicans roared ahead with bare majority votes, Dems were incensed. Now that you and your team are doing the same, it’s the GOP’s turn to steam…and scream.

But the country as a whole is, to borrow reality TV parlance, the biggest loser in the game of 51 percent. Such victories hardly constitute a mandate. They become exclusionary; instead of uniting the population around a cultural and political change, they embrace one side and shove the other into the wasteland. And the message to the losing side is the same: “Wait your turn. This is not your time to be Americans.”