by Jacob G. Hornberger
While the Obama camp and even some in the GOP ranks are upset with Mitt Romney for bringing up the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate, the reason Romney did it might well be that it’s the only issue on which he and Obama disagree.
On all the fundamental issues, with the exception of abortion, the two candidates are on the same page.
Take foreign policy.
While they’ll squabble over this intervention or that one, or over the amount of foreign aid given to any particular regime, the fact is that they both share the same perspective: that the U.S. government should continue in its role as a worldwide military empire, with military bases strung all over the world, and continue in its role as a world policeman, intervener, interloper, protector, and welfare provider.
They both believe that the U.S. government should continue providing foreign aid, in the form of cash and armaments, to foreign regimes, including pro-U.S. dictatorships.
They both believe in assassination, torture, invasions, occupations, embargoes, sanctions, and interference with foreign elections, especially as a way to bring pro-U.S. regimes into power.
Indeed, they both ardently believe in the entire concept of the national-security state, the vast military-intelligence apparatus that was engrafted onto the American way of life in 1947, purportedly to oppose the “communist threat.”
Indeed, both Obama and Romney embrace the “war on terrorism,” which they both acknowledge is endless, and also favor continuing to grant extreme deference to the Pentagon and the CIA in foreign policy. Neither of them would ever consider challenging the ever-increasing military and intelligence budgets, much less the very existence of the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, and the entire national-security state apparatus.
Most important, neither candidate will even consider the possibility that the paradigm of imperialism, interventionism, national security, and militarism to which they are both so devoted is one of the root causes of America’s woes in both fiscal policy and the constant threat of terrorism. Thus, they end up arguing over silly inanities about who would make a “tougher” president.
Take civil liberties. No difference there either, owing to President Obama’s full embrace of the Republican denigration of civil liberties practically from the start of his presidency. Gitmo, indefinite detention without trial, immunity for U.S. torturers, immunity for U.S. telecoms, denial of trial by jury, assassination, military detention, kangaroo tribunals. Both candidates embrace all these hallmarks of totalitarian regimes, in the name of “national security” and the “war on terrorism,” the magic buzz terms that dictatorial regimes throughout history have cited to justify anything they want to do both citizens and noncitizens alike.
They both hate the concept, believing ardently in the paradigm of the welfare state and managed economy. Oh sure, during the campaign Romney will trot out the old conservative mantra of “reducing taxes and spending and the size of government” but it will be as deceptive and fraudulent as it always is. The fact is that Romney, like most everyone else in the GOP and like every Democrat, believes in the welfare state, as manifested by his support of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, food stamps, and every other socialistic program on the books. The fights will be over whose “reform plan” will save or improve the programs or over who is more competent to run the programs, Democrats or Republicans. But neither of them, needless to say, will challenge the existence of the welfare state itself, either on moral, utilitarian, or constitutional grounds.
They both believe fervently in the concept of a presidentially managed economy. In fact, that’s their big fight when it comes to the economy: which candidate will be the better manager of the economy — which candidate will be the better job-creator-in-chief.
Neither of them will ever question whether a president’s job is to manage the economy or create jobs. In their minds, there is no question about it. For them, the libertarian notion that markets should be free of management or control by government officials is, well, just plain crazy. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if people were free to manage their own economic affairs, is how both candidates see it.
Thus, the last thing that either Obama or Romney will ever do is entertain what for them would be a most frightening notion: that the welfare-state, managed-economy way of life is inherently defective — that it is one of the root causes of America’s woes and that it simply cannot be fixed either by Democrats or Republicans or anyone else.
Thus, neither one of them ever considers, even for a moment, the notion that the only solution to America’s economic woes is a dismantling of all this statism and the embrace of the libertarian concept of economic liberty.
Take the drug war. They both believe in the power of the state to control what people place into their mouths and to punish people for placing non-approved substances into their mouths. They absolutely love the idea of the state’s wielding the power to jail or fine people for ingesting substances that the state hasn’t approved of. And it doesn’t matter how much failure, violence, death, destruction, racial prejudice, and corruption the drug war produces or manifests. All that matters for them is that the state must continue to wield this omnipotent power over the lives of the people.
Thus, it is a foregone conclusion that drug legalization, which is the only solution to the drug war, will not be a subject of debate in the coming presidential race. That would be too “radical” a thing for these two candidates to contemplate, as it undoubtedly is for the mainstream reporters that will be covering their campaign or the mainstream pundits handling the presidential debates.
Of course, I could go on. The point is that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney promises a fundamental change away from the statism that holds our nation in its grip to the libertarian principles of free markets, private property, and a limited-government republic, which is the only real solution to America’s many woes.
Given that the candidates share the same fundamental political and economic philosophy, Romney might well have raised the birth-certificate issue to highlight the major difference between him and Obama.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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