Northeast Times

Are Obama and Romney really that different?

In this week's River­ward Rant, colum­nist Joe Quigley looks at the front-run­ners in the Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an parties and finds sim­il­ar­it­ies between the two.

Okay, all the Demo­crat versus Re­pub­lic­an par­tis­an polit­ic­al an­ger in this coun­try has to stop right now.

Not be­cause it’s dam­aging our re­pub­lic or any­thing like that.

It’s just mean­ing­less, that’s all.

It’s di­vis­ive rhet­or­ic and, in the polit­ic­al spec­trum, it really only comes from angry fringe voters. Of­ten this non­sense is voiced by idi­ots who as­sume Pres­id­ent Barack Obama is a so­cial­ist Black Pan­ther and buf­foons who think in­ev­it­able Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney is go­ing to kick all of our grand­moth­ers off So­cial Se­cur­ity.

Just stop it.

Listen to me, par­tis­ans: all the an­ger that’s mak­ing your blood pres­sure go through the roof is ab­so­lutely mean­ing­less.

The dif­fer­ences between the Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic parties are min­is­cule.

The com­ing Obama versus Rom­ney gen­er­al elec­tion serves as ir­re­fut­able evid­ence.

Why?

Well, just look at Obama’s Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act, oth­er­wise known as Obama­care.

It’s pretty much the same as “Rom­ney­care,” the Mas­sachu­setts health care re­form law passed by Rom­ney, only Obama’s is ap­plied at the fed­er­al level.

When cam­paign­ing in Mas­sachu­setts for gov­ernor, Rom­ney told voters that he wasn’t a “par­tis­an Re­pub­lic­an,” that he was a “mod­er­ate” with “pro­gress­ive views.”

If he said that today, blab­ber­mouths like Rush Limbaugh would call Rom­ney a closet athe­ist who should go back to Rus­sia.

Mean­while, Pres­id­ent Obama has spent his en­tire first term try­ing to re­mind voters that he’s a mod­er­ate Demo­crat with the same pro­gress­ive views.

But not too pro­gress­ive, as to not of­fend people who think “pro­gress­ive” means “so­cial­ist.”

The most in­furi­at­ing part of this elec­tion sea­son – for me, any­way – is watch­ing Rom­ney try to dis­tance him­self from the ideas he used to be­come an ef­fect­ive lead­er in Mas­sachu­setts, the same way John Mc­Cain catered to the ex­treme con­ser­vat­ive wing of the Re­pub­lic­an party dur­ing the ‘08 gen­er­al elec­tion.

Both Rom­ney and Mc­Cain held po­s­i­tions and em­ployed ideas that - for lack of a bet­ter term - were pretty awe­some. They were hol­d­overs from an era where Re­pub­lic­ans could be pro-busi­ness but, at the same time, not bow down to the nas­ti­er, more nar­row-minded ele­ments of the con­ser­vat­ive wing.

Then we have Obama.

I voted for the guy both in the Demo­crat­ic primary and the ‘08 gen­er­al elec­tion be­cause he soun­ded like a new FDR.

A lot of us Obama voters na­ively be­lieved that Obama would take real meas­ures to fix our eco­nomy, like try­ing to lure man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs back and stop pois­on­ous Wall Street activ­it­ies, like de­riv­at­ives trad­ing, even while Obama pock­eted huge cam­paign dona­tions from busi­ness ti­tans profit­ing off of Amer­ica’s col­lect­ive debt.

In truth, Obama has done very little of that.

He’s been a middle-of-the-road cent­rist, dare I say a con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crat.

Not quite the guy who, in the Demo­crat­ic primary, ad­mit­ted that he would prefer a single-pay­er health­care sys­tem in Amer­ica.

So, this fall, we’ll choose between Obama or Rom­ney, two guys who are so sim­il­ar in their polit­ics that they might as well be­long to the same party.

For voters ac­tu­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion to our polit­ic­al sys­tem, it’s pretty scary.

We’re sup­posed to be a demo­crat­ic so­ci­ety yet elec­tion after elec­tion we vote for two al­most-identic­al parties to the point where small policy dis­agree­ments are framed as “so­cial­ism” or “class war­fare” by the angry fringe.

Mean­while, Amer­ica all but ig­nores can­did­ates who in­tro­duce new ideas to the table. Ral­ph Nader was either ig­nored or vil­i­fied, es­pe­cially by the left.

Con­ser­vat­ives like to dis­miss Ron Paul as a whack job.

Yet through the last two dec­ades Nader and Paul were some of the only politi­cians out there who ac­tu­ally at­temp­ted to be dif­fer­ent.

Some­times, Amer­ic­ans seem to be al­ler­gic to new ideas.

It’s like: “Hey, Ron Paul just said Amer­ica should end the Drug War. Tell him to shut up!”

“Re­mem­ber Ral­ph Nader, the guy who wanted to get cor­por­ate in­flu­ence out of our elec­tions? What a flag-burn­ing hip­pie!”

If you’re go­ing to be angry, be angry about Amer­ica’s habit of ig­nor­ing fresh ideas.

Just don’t pre­tend that Rom­ney and Obama are po­lar op­pos­ites.

They aren’t, even if they would like you to think so.

Obama isn’t go­ing to take away your guns and raise a So­viet flag over Wash­ing­ton.

Rom­ney isn’t go­ing to gut the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and force pub­lic schools to teach cre­ation­ism.

So calm down. ••

“River­ward Rants” re­flects the opin­ions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown res­id­ent, area nat­ive and writer of the Web site PhillyNeigh­bor.com, where he makes cyn­ic­al (and un­censored) com­ments about life in the river­wards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com.

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