Cats vs. dogs. Coke vs. Pepsi. Democrats vs. Republicans.
These are the great divisions of life. But what if one of those rivalries isn’t actually much of a division at all?
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to reignite the cola wars of the 90s. (Besides, we all know Coke is the clear winner: Do you order a Jack and Pepsi?)
No, I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans—or rather, the out-of-date and out-of-step establishments of both parties.
For libertarians, saying both parties are the same is a common theme. Democrat and Republican partisans dismiss such critiques as cynical or unserious, but there’s a real case to be made if we look at the cold, hard facts.
Here are 7 big reasons there’s no difference between establishment Democrats and Republicans:
1. Both support endless war. It’s been more than a decade since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and America’s entanglements are far from over. Though Bush is remembered as the consummate hawk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has used his time in office to start or maintain additional wars in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Now, he wants to add Syria to the list. My generation can barely remember peace—and there’s no end in sight for a foreign policy with devastating human and financial costs.
2. Both engage in out-of-control spending. Yes, deficit spending has accelerated under Barack Obama. But you know what? There was also a massive acceleration under Bush. The fact is, debt is a bipartisan problem, and neither party is innocent. With $17 trillion of debt (and rapidly counting) as the consequence of decades of bipartisan irresponsibility, the time has passed for pointing fingers and dubbing a slightly slower rate of spending growth a “historic cut.”
3. Both ignore our most basic rights. CNN recently asked “When can a government kill its own people?” but for President Obama and some old guard GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain, that question has already been answered: Pretty much whenever it’s convenient. In fact, the U.S. government has already assassinated a 16-year-old American citizen by drone strike, killing a boy who was neither accused nor suspected of any crime.
4. Both have no respect for the rule of law. Obama swept into office promising a new attention to the rule of law after years of (correct) complaints that Bush often ignored it. “I take the Constitution very seriously,” he maintained to a nation weary for lawfulness. Bush and his GOP Congress were rightly critiqued for rampantly flouting the Constitution, especially the 4th and 5th Amendments (rights to privacy and a fair trial). But as Gitmo remains open, the NDAA makes indefinite detention a possibility for any American, and the list of NSA abuses reaches absurd proportions, Obama’s campaign promise is overdue for a death certificate.
5. Both are bought and paid for by big business. You know what’s the best original idea in politics today? Making politicians wear suits like NASCAR drivers, which display their biggest corporate sponsors. Democrats and Republicans alike would be plastered with logos. So is it any wonder that many of these same businesses get massive favors from the government at taxpayers’ expense? DC spends upwards of $100 billion on corporate welfare annually, not to mention huge one-off expenditures like the bailouts.
6. Both care most about their own power. President Obama recently joked, “That’s the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.” And while he was just kidding around, his humor was in line with the bipartisan presidential mindset. In the recent State of the Union address, the President announced his intention to continue expanding the power of the Executive at Congress’ expense. Republicans were duly upset at this power grab, but historically GOP Presidents have actually averaged slightly more executive orders than Democrats have.
7. Both have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty. Finally, take a look at the big picture:
Our government is reading our emails and monitoring our calls.
We can’t decide for ourselves what to consume, whether to buy insurance, or who to marry.
All our income until mid-April goes directly to the government.
America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and minorities are subject to unfair, disproportionate punishment.
Is this really the land of the free?
In 2014, it’s very difficult to answer that question in the affirmative. But it’s easy to see that partisanship isn’t the answer—and neither is bipartisan big government. As America moves toward a new, liberty-friendly policy consensus, let’s toss this outdated left vs. right rivalry and focus on the real fight:
Washington vs. us.