Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next four years will look virtually identical to the last four. While different special interests may benefit, on issues of vast substance and importance, President Obama and Governor Romney are virtually identical and 2014 will not look a lot different regardless of who is president.
My opposition to Obama and Romney should be well known to PolicyMic readers. It is based on my libertarianism and a general disgust towards politicians. What I wanted to do on the eve of the election is to offer a reminder that since voting is essentially an endorsement, even if it is a defensive vote against a supposed "lesser of two evil," what one is condoning by casting a vote for either President Obama or Governor Romney.
Early in his term, President Obama re-authorized the extension of the much-hated PATRIOT Act, a bill that expanded the already broad powers of the federal government to monitor and spy on American citizens and affecting speech, privacy, and nearly every banking and financial transaction. Not to be outdone, Obama signed the NDAA and the provisions in the bill that would give the president the power to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial.
Eric Holder, Obama's Attorney General, even made a special speech at Washington University to justify acts that even the Magna Carta sought to prevent the King from having. Obama has spent his time since then blocking lawsuits that challenge the legality and constitutionality of the NDAA provisions. For someone claiming that he wouldn't dare abuse this power, he sure has an odd way of showing it.
While candidate Obama ran on a fairly moderate and liberal stance on the drug war, President Obama has doubled-down on the drug war, launching multiple federal raids on medical marijuana facilities in violation of state law. On the issues of torture and warrantless wiretapping -- issues that President Bush was widely condemned for -- Obama essentially launched a fantastic rhetorical PR campaign against these abuses while simultaneously expanding them and refused to prosecute those under the Bush Administration who committed felonies by engaging in torture.
On the economy, Obama has basically pursued the same Keynesian policies as his predecessors. Spending, borrowing, and printing trillions of dollars in a QE ad infinitum attempt to re-inflate bubbles in an economy that desperately needs clearing, sound investment, and capital-based production for real recovery. Obamacare, his crowning legislative achievement, added more coercion, mandates, and corporatism to a health care system that has been crippled by all three for decades.
Despite all of this, it is on foreign policy where Obama truly has shown his true colors. While lying about "ending the war in Iraq," Obama has expanded the presence of U.S. Special Forces into now over 120 countries, expanded the Afghan war, has spread the "War on Terror" into Africa, and launched drone strikes in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. He claims the right to assassinate U.S. citizens anywhere around the globe without due process, and even targeted the teenage son of Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Alawki (both U.S. citizens) like a judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one.
The irony of this is that while his conservative "opposition" portrays him as some weak appeaser, Obama will be the first one to tell you what a warmonger he is. In multiple articles in national newspapers, Obama bragged about these targeted assassinations, drone strikes, and his own "kill list" -- including the leaking of classified information. This is essentially what Obama is punishing Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers for. And when pressed by good journalists about this, he hides behind the cover of "national security" like a chickenhawk coward.
If Romney wins, it is highly unlikely that any of these policies will change. In fact, they may even be expanded. As former civil rights attorney Glenn Greenwald points out, Obama is essentially streamlining and codifying the worst excesses of his hawkish foreign policy and domestic civil liberties abuses. In other words, whoever gets elected tomorrow will have the kill list, NDAA, drone war, and targeted assassinations at his disposal.
On the drug war, Romney has given every inclination that he will continue to throw medical marijuana patients and distributors into cages. On the campaign trail and during the last presidential debate, Romney reiterated his support for virtually everything President Obama is doing. NDAA? Check. Drones? Check. Kill lists, Iran sanctions, malleable Bill of Rights? Check, check, and check.
On the economy, Romney is your typical Republican. He speaks often of "entrepreneurers" and free markets, but when pressed on details, he offers increased spending, closing deductions and loopholes, and continuing the monetization of debt through the Federal Reserve. When asked about Congressman Ron Paul's plan to cut $1 trillion of federal spending, Romney said that it would be disastrous "to take that much money out of the economy." But where do you think that government money comes from Mitt? Economic production and trade in that private sector that you claim to understand so well.
Besides, if history is any guide, those supporting Mitt Romney in hopes that he will take us in an even just slightly better direction than big spending and big government should steer clear of the Republicans. Since WWII, federal spending has increased more under Republican administrations than Democrat ones, and especially entitlement spending! Either the Republicans really, really mean it this time, or they are lying, deceitful politicians eager for power. Take your pick.
One can make all the arguments in the world for/against Governor Romney and President Obama, but a vote for either of them is fundamentally a vote for kill lists, NDAA, caging medical marijuana sellers, corporatism, lawless drone strikes, higher debt and spending, a depreciated dollar, and the further entrenchment of state power at the expense of liberty and free markets.
As for me, I will abstain from the state's sacrament. Because despite the media hype about the importance of this election, the battle for human liberty and international peace against the darkness of institutionalized coercion has lasted thousands of years. We in the liberty movement will be fighting long after this or any election.
Many libertarians, principles progressives, and frustrated conservatives will follow suit, while some will vote third-party as their way of sending a message. I think either of these options are great.
Your vote is your endorsement and conscience; use it wisely.