The two main parties are unlike, yet so very similar. Both of them are advocates of Big Government, just with different methods and angles. While Republicans savored the Iraq conflict, Democrats savor the war in Afghanistan. While Republicans offer corporatism to Big Oil, the Democrats extend the same to wind and solar. While Democrats favor social welfare, Republicans admire corporate welfare. One could go on and on about the two-faced similarities.
That said, those still reeling from Barack Obama’s Election Day defeat of Mitt Romney should be consoled by this: The candidates were so alike that having Obama in power really won’t be much different than having Romney at the helm had he won. Consider the following:
Both men are spendthrifts. It’s not news that Obama’s budget plan is over the top: Even with the improbability of tax revenues rising by a third over his second term, he would still rack up annual deficits to the tune of $650 billion. That’s par for the course for someone who, working in conjunction with Congress, had racked up a $1.1 trillion deficit this past year.
Romney was supposed to be the antidote to that. Turns out, his plan was anything but fiscal conservatism. While he may have cut taxes and programs (like Obamacare and Amtrak), he would have taken the savings and dumped them elsewhere, such as defense which by itself would have been $203 billion higher by 2016. Accumulating the impact of the cash-in and cash-out, Romney would have created an increase of $262 billion in annual spending.
Republicans would be shocked to find out that Obama’s plan is significantly better at deficit control – but that’s not saying much because he still has in the hole by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Both men love foreign intervention and war. When Obama won in 2008 it was on the strength of change and being the anti-Bush. He was supposed to stop the wars and get us out of the Middle East. He didn’t.
Obama wants you to believe he got us out of Iraq, although a significant US presence remains. Under his watch, the troop counts dropped there, but increased in Afghanistan from 34,000 at the start of his presidency to a peak of 101,000 last year to current levels of 68,000. The “Anti-Bush” also felt it necessary to put our forces and resources into the Libyan conflict without Congressional approval.
So, how would have Romney fared? He would have been a copycat of Obama who was basically a copycat of Bush. You could glean as much from the third presidential debate during which Romney repeatedly agreed with most of Obama’s foreign endeavors. As mentioned earlier, Romney would have increased defense spending. But to what end? Like all Neocons, he criticized Obama’s handling of the alleged Iranian threat and would have likely done a switcheroo akin to Obama’s Iraq-Afghanistan transfer and instead focused on Iran, keeping us in perpetual war. Obama will be just as hawkish as his Administration continues to emphasize Afghanistan, dabbles in Iran and Syria, and thinks nothing of sending unmanned drones around the world to unleash acts of war upon nations not Constitutionally-identified as threats.
Both men hate the Constitution. As made evident by their support for wars that were never approved by Congress, neither man seems to care for our founding document and the standards it set for us.
Both openly support the National Defense Authorization Act and all its evils (acts that candidate Obama ran against in 2008). Under the NDAA, Habeas Corpus is suspended under the pretense of war (which in the age of terror carries wide meaning). Anyone who carries out an “attack” (once again, a nebulous word in itself), including American citizens, could be detained indefinitely without trial, a right that we have, clearly called out in the Constitution.
Both men prove to care not for the Fourth Amendment. Obama continued Bush’s wiretapping efforts, even creating a wiretap for the Internet as a whole. Romney was adamant in his support for stronger Homeland Security and went so far as to call for spying on religious institutions and tracking foreign students at colleges across America.
These policies and world views represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lack of real differences between Obama and Romney. Had Romney won last Tuesday, it would have been only a repeat of the Obama presidency. That’s a sad commentary on the state of government – and the broken two-party system – in America.
Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at thenewamerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer