For the past few years, I’ve read any number of “Left” pundits, along with various bloggers and commenters on blogs saying that there’s “no difference between the parties,” and that “Obama is the same as Bush.” … These past two weeks should have put a stop to that.
“Look at all of those statements, at all the actions, and if you still think there’s “no difference between the parties,” then you’re beyond hope. Anyone who continues to say that is not a progressive! They may say they are, they may claim to be “speaking for the base,” but given the objective reality that there is a real, and significant difference between the two parties, they’re most definitely not speaking for the base. They have other motives to stop you from voting, and it’s not to your benefit. It probably is to theirs.
— NOW Do You Think There’s No Difference Between Parties?
That’s why it’s important to get out and vote this coming November. There’s a lot at stake, and there is a very real choice happening. One party wants to take us into the future, the other wants to take us back to 1900. If you don’t realize that, you need to wake up and smell the coffee.”
I’ve actually been having this discussion a lot recently, and I’m on both sides. There is a definite difference between the Democratic Party and the Republicans, but it’s the difference between moderates/slightly, vaguely, socially left-of-center politicians and the right. The Democrats have liberal Americans by the social issues— the short hairs, if you will. It is important to vote, because I’d much rather have someone in office who thinks gay people have a right to exist and, well, have rights, than say, Rick Santorum.
The Democratic party has to lean further to the right than ‘liberal’ parties in other countries because American culture is steeped in Cold War historical intolerance towards anything like “communism.” This is coupled with a love of Reagan— who “defeated” communism in the minds of many— and forces Democrats right for the purpose of PR. Politicians in the Democratic Party are too nervous of being accused of being “wimpy” “commie” “pinko” “lefty” “cowards” and “Frenchmen” to propose anything radical. Republicans, on the other hand, can take the labels they are most likely given and wear them with pride (“Stupid”=”Everyday Joe Shmo”, “warmongering/violent”=”hawkish/strong”, “oppressive” and “anti-regulation/taxes”=sticking up for the little guy.)
The lack of any sort of dichotomy is particularly true in economic policy. Left and right wing economic theories range from Ayn Rand’s objectivism to Marxist Socialism to anarcho communism. The choice presented to the American people, however, is one between Friedman and Keynes+Adam Smith. This is a false choice; the two parties only make differences based on social issues, because social issues are oftentimes easy to debate and make differences over.
I do disagree with my friends who protest the vote; there are major differences between Obama and the Republican candidates. If Obama were handed an executive order for the extermination/indoctrination of all LGBTQ* people, I don’t think he would sign it, but I wouldn’t put it past the Republican candidates. But the parties are, in many ways similar. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote, but it does mean that you should be aware that the two parties are similar and attempt to get more than the dominant narrative into the political conversation.