WASHINGTON, June 17, 2013 — The recent NSA spying scandal has stirred up angry responses from people on both sides of the political aisle, while simultaneously being defended by those same sides. Republicans and Democrats have been united in both their support and opposition to the practice of listening in to phone calls of citizens under the guise of defending America against terrorist attacks.
The bipartisan support has led some, however, to question the two-party system. With the scandal beginning under President Bush and continuing under President Obama, the question must be revisited: are the Libertarians correct when they call the two political parties nothing more than two sides of the same coin?
In California, the one real power that Republicans have had for decades, the power to block new taxes, was eliminated at the polls in November of 2012. No longer did California need a supermajority in order to pass tax laws. Now a simple majority will do. With this election, California became a de facto one-party state, as Republicans have almost no power in Sacramento. Despite this Democrat stronghold, liberal Governor Jerry Brown has won praise from Republicans and Democrats alike for his strong stance on repairing California’s disheveled and tattered budget issues. Combining wise spending with cuts and austerity programs, and despite attacks from unions and liberal groups, Brown has held firm on his budget programs, and has made some progress in restoring the shine to the Golden State.
If California manages to function just as well with a supermajority of Democrats and an increasingly irrelevant Republican Party, and if the liberal governor spends like a conservative Republican, then what really is the difference between the two parties? When the Democrats and Republicans begin to behave in the same manner, does this not put a feather in the cap of this primary anti-establishment political group?
Many have raised the question of what precisely, if anything, President Obama has done differently than President Bush. Obama brought home troops from Iraq, but entangled American troops in Libya and seems poised to send military aid to Syria. Obama’s administration pays less attention to Israel than previous administrations, straining an old friendship that dates back to Israel’s creation in 1948.
However, the president has arguably improved relations with other nations that America was not as close to, such as the afore-mentioned Libya. Recently the president also hosted a meeting with China’s prime minister.
Obama has not eliminated the Patriot Act, Obama has not closed Guantanemo Bay prison, Obama has not limited the war in Afghanistan, Obama has implemented economic stimuli that had little effect, and Obama’s policies have neither lowered gas costs nor food costs nor greatly stimulated the job market. Does this not point toward the Libertarian argument that the two parties are no different from one another?
True enough, the Libertarian Party would argue that all of our troops need to come home. It says the War on Terror needs to be limited and the War on Drugs should cease and that America needs to greatly reduce the size and scope of government.
In California, Libertarians would argue that that California needs even more vigorous economic activity in order to succeed, activity not limited to pension reform, lower taxes, less spending, and cutting social programs. They would go further than conservatives and Republicans would dare go, such as the elimination of the minimum wage and cutting the salaries (and positions) of state legislators. The Libertarians would also argue that California would save money or increase its coffers by allowing for less attention to social issues; i.e., allowing marriage to be between any consenting adults including those in plural marriages; removing hardcore drug offenders from prison and putting them into rehabilitation centers; decriminalizing soft drugs, gambling, and prostitution; removing attention given to gun-owners; and allowing more allowances for privatizing education, or at least reducing the amount of spending.
Some of these positions are much further than liberals and Democrats would be willing to go, even in California. But with the similarities between the two parties regarding national and state policy becoming increasingly small, people are beginning to ask the question more and more: “did the Libertarians tell us the truth all along?” If the parties continue to be share opinions across the aisle on issues that Americans feels strongly about, the question may arise more often in the future.
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