There’s a Difference, But How Much of One? Republican Versus Democrat Presidential Candidates.

I don’t mean to throw everybody in the same bucket and make wide-sweeping generalizations and, certainly, if somebody asks me if someone like Mitt Romney (R) would be better than Barack Obama (D) as President I’m highly inclined to say, “Sure. Probably better if nothing more than as a better executive.”  That doesn’t mean I don’t think someone like former NM Governor Gary Johnson (L) or someone like Congressman Ron Paul (R – TX) wouldn’t be much, much better – especially for people who really want to see major changes.

Certainly, there are fine people with both parties that don’t necessarily subscribe in lock step with each other on everything; but, I was chastised recently for suggesting that Republican and Democrat presidential candidates generally tend to agree with each other on about 96% of everything.  Someone thought that was ridiculous and so out of the park on its face that the conversation wasn’t even worth having.  But, let’s really look at this.

For the most part, the candidates generally agree on the same number of Federal Cabinet Level departments (15) and (within a few percentage points) the budgets of each.  They agree on keeping the income tax and the IRS.  They agree on keeping the level of income theft approximately the same (39%, 35%, 25% … just negotiating the level of theft).  They agree on keeping the TSA, DEA, FDIC, CIA, FBI, NRO, NSA.  They agree on keeping the ACF, AHRQ, USAID, FAA, FCC, FTC,  ITA and SEC.  Both sides claim they would have voted for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens under the NDAA.  Both sides believe that you are the property of the government to do with as they see fit under the SSS (the draft).    
They typically will have budget proposals that are within a few percentage points total (or one might be 5% of the total of the other) of each other.  They agree on staying in the United Nations. They agree on foreign aid and the approximate levels of it.  They agree on keeping most subsidies.  Keeping Social Security (except maybe tweaking it a bit).  Keeping (or “protecting”) Medicare/Medicaid.  
Both sides almost always believe in some level of gun control.  They might differ widely on exactly how much.  Both sides think the Federal Government has a major role to play in education, farming and energy.  

[As an aside, let’s look at energy and the Federal department that was created in the 1970s under Democratic President Jimmy Carter who said it’s mission was to get us independent of foreign oil. The government (the President) said that with its creation we would not use one more drop of foreign oil annually than we did at that time.   Well, 16,000 or more employees and tens of billions of dollars a year in the budget each year … OOOoooops.   And, yet still, there would be howls from all corners if someone tried to close down DoE.  Sad.  Right now we don’t hear either of the two major party sides talking about shuttering the Department of Energy, even after Solyndra.  Nope, they agree on keeping it despite it’s obvious ongoing failure.  Fascinating.]

They mostly agree on keeping the Federal Reserve intact as is.  They agree on not returning to a commodity based currency or in introducing currency competition.  They agree on strong arming the states with threats to withhold Federal funds if not using a seat belt in your vehicle isn’t made into a crime (hey – doesn’t everyone believe that people with loaded firearms should stop and detain citizens at roadside and demand they produce their papers for not wearing their seat belt?).

Even in speech you hear Romney say, “repeal and REPLACE Obamacare.”  … REPLACE?  No, no, no.  We need to repeal more than Obamacare and replace most of it with nothing [that’s a whole other topic].

Do you hear any of these guys talking about getting Wickard v. Filburn overturned?  That one court case is where the Federal Government claims its authority to regulate everything from wheat (as in the case) to how much water your toilet bowl can legally hold with each flush.   Do you hear either side calling for repeal of S.1858 (2007) which Congress passed and George W. Bush signed into law, thereby allowing for the Federal Government to collect, database and test DNA from all newborns without parental notification or consent?   Nope, they must agree that is all a-okay.

Indeed, both sides seem to agree that the Federal Government actually has a role in defining the word “marriage”. Essentially amounting to a Federal take over of a religious ritual and deciding to give (or not give) benefits based on someone having completed such a (religious) ritual.  Both sides agree with and subscribe to Keynesian (vs. Austrian) economic principles.

They agree that the U.S. Government should be meddling in the affairs of other nations, propping up some dictators and taking others out. Ignoring human rights violations in some countries while lambasting those in others.  They agree for the most part on our military presence overseas and keeping 700 bases open in 100 or more countries.

So, sure. They will pretend there are these vast differences on a handful of issues … abortion, same sex marriage, to what extent guns should be regulated, whether the top tax rate should be 39% or 35% or 29%, what should be done about so-called ‘illegal immigration’, whether Obamacare was the right law or something just really similar to it might be better.  We might even get lip service from one side about drug decriminalization; but, after four years in office we’ve seen that promise broken.  And if you consider that Romney has been pro-choice, pro-government takeover of healthcare and definitely anti-gun in the not-to-distant past, then are you really making a choice between two sides with the slimmest of hairs difference in their philosophy on the appropriate size, scope and power of government?
Indeed, we will be subjected to the same political ‘debate’ (or lack of as the case really is) that we’ve heard every four years for as long as I’ve been alive.  And every four years one side or the other wins but not a whole hell of a lot changes.  SO, let’s not pretend that both the Democrat and Republican candidates don’t basically agree on 96% of everything, okay?   At it’s most basic, both sides agree that the U.S. Federal Government should be able to do just about anything it wants to, to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time.  And, as a result, that is why other voices and ideas, like those of Governor Gary Johnson should absolutely be included in every debate.  So, we can hear something different … from someone who actually means it when they say something.

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