Republican – Democrat, Po-Tay-Toe – Po-Tah-Toe

As a  libertarian on a conservative radio station in the Midwest (93 WIBC – Indianapolis) I occasionally find myself at odds with my listeners.  Imagine that. This was the case a few weeks ago when a caller got upset with me for calling government a “necessary evil”.

Caller: “Who do you think the government is Larry? We, the people, are the government.”

I have heard this comment so often throughout my life that it would be easy just to accept it as truth. But it’s false. We, the people, don’t have real choices in our elections, especially those for national office.

“But that’s not true!” you say.  “We have a democratically elected, representative government!”

While that is technically true, the process and system we use to elect our representatives is democratic, the question to ask is do we have a choice when our options are essentially identical.  Republican-vs-Democrat, Vanilla-vs-French Vanilla.  No real choice there.

I’m reading The Declaration of Independents by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. In the prologue, they quote Henry Adams, great-grandson President #2, who said,

“Politics has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”

Damn.  That resonates in my head like a dentist’s drill. Our two-party political system uses rhetoric on both sides to create false black and white choices, invariably painting the opposition as evil.

  • Support every foreign war our government engages in…or you’re a blame America first, soldier hating, communist
  • Allow Washington bureaucrats to re-distribute the product of your life…or you’re a selfish, child hating, racist

But look past the demagoguery and rhetoric you’ll find there is little difference between the two parties. Welch and Gillespie point out that Pres. Barack Obama announced a new national competitiveness initiative in his State of the Union Address…just five years after George Bush announced… wait for it…a new American competitiveness initiative in his State of the Union Address.

RepublicratWhile we envision Republicans as hating the welfare state and working to dismantle it, George Bush’s No Child Left behind Act greatly expanded the federal government’s control over our children’s education.  On top of that it grew the federal funding of education by $20.1 billion, 34%, from 2001 to 2007. But Bush wasn’t done growing entitlement benefits. His prescription drug program, Medicare Part D, was the largest entitlement program ever created…until President Obama passed the Affordable Health Care Act.

On the other hand, we consider Democrats enemies of the warfare state. Barack Obama ran on a campaign of ending the war in Iraq and quickly cleaning up the mess in Afghanistan.  Not only has he continued those foreign wars, but he tripled down.  Our Nobel Peace Prize winning President is running wars on three fronts including his commitment of our national defense resources to the conflict in Libya!   And he did it in a way that George Bush never attempted, unilaterally, with no consultation or buy-in from Congress.  At.  All.

Republicans, often touted as the protectors of free speech and individual rights, used fear of terrorism to push through one of the biggest violations of our fourth amendment rights imaginable, The Patriot Act. Barack Obama railed against it as a senator, but his minions have used the same fear tactics to push through two Patriot Act extensions in his first two years in office. Republican, Democrat. Po-Tay-Toe, Po-Tah-Toe.

In our current two-party political system, where the goal appears not to be protecting individual liberty but securing government power over the individual, are we, the people really the government? Is the choice between fascism and communism really a choice at all?


About Larry Downes

Son, brother, husband, father, boss, mentor & friend. Believer in unfettered personal liberty. Occasional host on 93.1 WIBC in Indianapolis.

3 Responses to “Republican – Democrat, Po-Tay-Toe – Po-Tah-Toe”


  1. Catching up With Reviews & Commentary About The Declaration of Independents - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine - July 2, 2011

    […] Larry Downes, on his personal website: […]

  2. Omnibus Reviews & Commentary | Daily Libertarian - July 5, 2011

    […] Larry Downes, on his personal website: […]

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