November is coming. Just in case you forgot what November means, there are television advertisements, radio advertisements, and internet advertisements, as well as rallies, drives and fund-raisers to remind you. On Saturday, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan played up this point when he said that this was the most important election of our lives.
After all, a socialist job killer who wants to cut your grandma’s Medicare is running against a billionaire hatchet man who shipped your father’s job overseas, wants to cut taxes for his country club buddies, and will eat caviar while America starves. At least these are the doomsday scenarios being propagated by both political parties. They would have you believe that the future hangs in the balance and a single vote could be the deciding factor; however, the truth is that your vote is worth about as much as a campaign promise.
The candidates claim to be divided, they claim radically different stances on hundreds of issues, but there is no practical difference between Obama and Romney, especially if recent so called “landmark” elections are any indication.
Consider Obama’s record while in office following a “landmark” election. After running on a platform that promised government transparency and limiting the Bush era expansion of executive power, Obama has done the opposite. With a record use of signing statements and the landmark decision that the president has the right to kill an American citizen without judicial review, the Obama presidency is even more hawkish than the Bush Presidency. Obama has also continued the use of the Guantanamo Bay detention area and ignored his promise to provide “enemy combatants” with fair trials. Obama has continued drone and preemptive strikes, once to kill an American citizen. Obama has continued Bush’s wire tapping programs and the Patriot Act is still on the books. Despite promises of hope and change, Obama looks a lot like Bush.
Judging by candidate Romney’s unwillingness to attack the President on these issues, it seems unlikely that a President Romney would be different with regards to the drone strikes, Guantanamo Bay, or judicial review. It seems even less likely that Romney would relinquish executive powers when considering the Bush era argument that the President needs a free hand to combat terrorism. A reasonable conclusion is that Romney foreign policy will look like Obama foreign policy, which looks like Bush foreign policy.
On domestic issues, Obama has been far from revolutionary. The health care bill is a watered down version of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan, the Bush- era tax cuts have been broadly extended, and the vaunted bailout plan was a continuation of Bush policy. Both candidates believe gay marriage should be decided by the states, so don’t be fooled into thinking that their personal opinions matter. Finally, aside from a cynical political gesture, Obama has done nothing for the immigrant population.
Would a Romney Presidency look much different? It’s hard to tell, since Romney hasn’t taken a strong stance on much of anything. However, Romney has a history as an expedient moderate politician. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney passed a healthcare law much like Obama’s. Romney has also backed off his hard-line stance on immigration, and agrees with Obama on the nuts and bolts of gay marriage, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Patriot Act. Obama and Romney disagree on principal, but agree on the practical details of everything from foreign policy to gay rights.
It seems that the defining issues of this election are Obama’s birth certificate and Romney’s tax return. So, if you really believe that Obama was born in Kenya, if you can’t tolerate a President who won’t release his tax returns, or if you’re dumb enough to believe either side’s rhetoric, go vote. However, you should know that a Romney Presidency will look remarkably like an Obama presidency, which will continue to look remarkably like the Bush presidency. Like it or not, America will stay on the course that it’s been on for the last decade. Your vote makes no difference, but if you want a reason to feel hopeful, try a delicious Chicken Charlie from Mr. J’s. It tastes better than a ballot, and it causes about as much change.
David Yoder, Opinion Editor