As a Freshman here at Michigan, one thing in particular I was really looking forward to coming into this school year was the great political atmosphere here at the university. I enjoy discussing anything related to politics, and what better environment to do so than one of the biggest and most politically active universities in the world? I was eager to see all of the political groups organized on the diag during festifall, giving their pitches to passersby trying to get them to join. Not surprisingly, the two groups with the biggest presence were the College Republicans and the College Democrats. On the surface, these two clubs seem like complete opposites. The members in them I’m sure have a dislike towards the opposing group. In reality, however, the College Democrats and College Republicans have more in common with each other than they may think.
In the mainstream media, all you see is the constant pushing of Democrats vs. Republicans, right vs. left, the good guys vs. the bad guys. Conservative talking heads like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh make a living by chastising those Marxist, socialist, and America-hating Democrats, while people like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann love telling the world about those racist, bigoted, and cold-hearted Republicans. It makes for entertaining news, but they are really bickering over nothing. It may seem like Hannity and Limbaugh have completely different political ideologies as Matthews and Olbermann, but all four of them are really clamoring for the same thing: Big government.
Conservatives like Limbaugh and Hannity try to espouse small government ideals, and in some issues they do represent less government intervention. Repealing ObamaCare, opposing the bailouts, and opposing economic stimulus are all small government positions. Economics is only one piece of the pie, however. When it comes to foreign policy, many Republicans are full blown lovers of government and spending. The supposed frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Governor Mitt Romney, wants to raise defense spending. Another candidate, Senator Rick Santorum, “would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending”. These two candidates have been very critical of President Obama and his spending, but like many other Republicans, refuse to cut spending out of their own pet issues.
[Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s pet issue is pizza. Large one topping for only $9.99!]
Big government runs rampant in social issues for Republicans as well. Most Republicans favor government staying out of the lives of citizens…Unless you’re gay and want to get married, sick and want to smoke marijuana for health reasons, or don’t like being forced to vaccinate your daughter for HPV.
So Republicans talk a good game when it comes to the economy, but show their loving for big government when it comes to foreign policy and social issues. How do the Democrats compare? It’s no secret that many Democrats favor increased government intervention when it comes to the economy. Most Democrats will favor national health care, economic stimulus, bailouts of certain industries, and raising taxes on the rich. When it comes to foreign policy, many believe that the Democrats are anti-war and for less military intervention. Recent actions by President Obama, however, go against those notions. Obama has decided to intervene in Libya, spending close to $1 billion, and has recently sent troops into Uganda to help fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army. Not only has President Obama created new military conflicts, he has escalated wars started under George W. Bush, such as sending in 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan back in 2009.
Democrats are generally better when it comes to social issues in terms of limiting government involvement, but they still have some issues in which they favor intervention, such as gun control, environmental issues (banning incandescent lightbulbs), and affirmative action.
When looking the big picture, it’s easy to see the many similarities in terms of how much government involvement the two parties feel should be in the lives of the people. Technically there are two major parties in America, but they act as one “big-government party”. There is a Republican wing that likes to wage war, increase defense spending, and restrict personal liberties. There is a Democrat wing that likes to wage war, increase defense spending, and restrict economic liberties.
I, myself, do plan to vote in the Republican primaries, but do not consider myself a Republican. There is only one candidate I feel represents my views, and if it wasn’t for him, I most likely would be just voting third party come November. I don’t see the point in choosing between “big-government candidate #1” and “big-government candidate #2”. No matter which one wins, I know I’ll be getting more government involvement in some aspect of my life.