Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

What's the Difference?

As the nomination process goes forward, I find myself pondering a November ballot of Barak Obama v Mitt Romney and wondering what's the difference? The more I think about this fundamental question, the more I find myself reminiscent of an old Futurama episode where the citizens of Earth, in an election for President of Earth, were given a choice between two clones, John Jackson and Jack Johnson.

Humor aside, the idea of choosing between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney really is cynically reminiscent of those sham elections we used to hear about in the old Soviet Union (and still hear about today, in certain quarters). If you're old enough to remember the USSR you know the ones I mean. The ones where the politburo boasted of a 98% turnout of voters, but there was only one name on the ballot.

Will we really have two candidates to choose between? If our choice is between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney, is that really a choice, or is it a choice the way John Jackson and Jack Johnson are choices? Seriously, what is the difference? How do they compare, and how do they contrast?

Now some might be tempted to compare their religious beliefs, and that's okay, but reason will mandate caution. Some might sarcastically ask how Barak's Madrasa education contrasts and compares with Mitt's magic underwear? And therein lies the danger.

In fact there is more similarity between Islam and Mormonism than many realize. Members of both worship the same God as Jews and Christians. Both religions recognize and revere the Creator of the Universe, explicitly the God of Abraham (though the Muslims usually leave off the bit about the God of Isaac and Jacob). And each worships God through adherance to the teachings of a relatively modern-day (certainly post-Messianic) prophet claiming special revelation direct from God (Mohammed and Joseph Smith). Perhaps most striking is that 144 years, to the day, before Muslims slaughtered innocent civilians at the World Trade Towers, Mormons did likewise on September 11, 1857, at Mountain Meadows in Utah. But there are two problems with this entire line of deliberation.

First, as has been pointed out ad nauseum, not all Muslims attacked the World Trade Center, and not all Mormons slaughtered members of the Mountain Meadows party. Second, even though it might be a legitimate issue to deliberate, how two seemingly disparate religions could have such uncanny (even if coincidental) similarities is not the issue at hand.

I am not presently interested in comparing and contrasting Islam and Mormonism. I'm interested in comparing and contrasting Barak Obama and Mitt Romney. I doubt that the leadership of either religion would offer either Barak Obama or Mitt Romney as the exemplar, as the standard, of their respective religions. Furthermore, I'm pretty much certain that neither had anything to do with either of the aforementioned atrocities. But, as it happens, their religious convictions have led to at least one striking similarity between them.

When it was expedient to appeal to his target electorate, Barak Obama abandoned his Madrasa upbringing, the faith of his fathers if you will, and professed Christianity (albeit the unorthodox and non-Biblical Liberation Theology of Jeremiah Wright). Similarly, when it was expedient to appeal to his target electorate, Mitt Romney set aside his Mormon upbringing and adopted a pro-choice philosophy, that is until it was expedient to repent his new-found pro-choice philosophy and profess a pro-life conviction in order to appeal to a different electorate. Empirically, it seems that both Barak Obama and Mitt Romney are quick to abandon their deepest convictions for the sake of pandering to voters. It seems they are both as fickle as the electorates they court.

Of course that's an oxymoronic assertion (and maybe not even oxy-). If these were truly their deepest convictions, they wouldn't abandon them so easily or conveniently. The truth is that their actions belie the insincerity of their respective religious convictions. So what else do their actions tell us? How else are Barak Obama and Mitt Romney similar?

Perhaps the most obvious similarity is that both have presided over a government takeover of healthcare. In that old Futurama episode there's a scene where Jack Johnson says that his opponent's 3% tax increase goes too far, and John Jackson responds by saying that his opponent's 3% tax increase doesn't not go too far enough. Is this the choice we'll have in November? To choose Mitt Romney, because Barak Obama's government takeover of our healthcare system goes too far, or Barak Obama, because Mitt Romney's doesn't not go too far enough?

In point of fact, these examples, of their respective forays into the private sector healthcare system, belie a deep-seated disrespect for both American liberty and our U. S. Constitution. It is a fundamental disrespect born of a complete lack of understanding of, or belief in, not only that liberty but the documents and philosophies that are its foundation. And the most significant similarity they share is also a manifestation of this common disrespect.

What is the most significant similarity between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney? It must be that both of their respective political philosophies are based on the same fundamental deception. Like Marx's Manifesto and FDR's Four Freedoms Speech, the political philosophies of both Barak Obama and Mitt Romney are based on the assertion that liberty derives from prosperity. Both would have us believe that to be free we must first prosper. Whether it's Barak Obama declaring that we must spread the wealth around, or Mitt Romney proclaiming that the President of the United States is somehow responsible for creating (or at least in some way manipulating) a private sector economy, both clearly believe that the government (and thus government officials) should somehow be in charge of the private sector, to shepherd over our private lives.

But the truth is just the opposite. Liberty does not derive from prosperity. Prosperity derives from liberty. Give the American people, or any people, a government that fiercely defends their liberty and they will prosper, but give them a government that makes them dependent and they will not. Both Barak Obama and Mitt Romney clearly believe that American prosperity is the government's responsibility; they would both make the American people dependent on the government.

Well if this is how they compare, how to Obama and Romney contrast? As I asked to begin with, what are their differences?

Sadly, I can find no difference, no significant distinction, between them. Oh, there are distinctions. Barak Obama is a Democrat, and Mitt Romney is a Republican. Barak Obama is Negro while Mitt Romney is Caucasian. I suppose they have different accents, different vocal affectations, but try as I might I can not think of a single distinction between them that is of the least significance. Theirs truly are distinctions without difference.

So will this be our "choice" in November; Barak Obama or Mitt Romney, Jack Johnson or John Jackson? While you ponder that thought, there's one more deception appended to this election that I want to point out. It is widely reported that Mitt Romney is the only GOP candidate who can beat Barak Obama, but it is more likely that he's the only one who can't. I would simply remind you of Gerald Ford, Bob Dole and John McCain and then point out that before the 1980 election Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan in the polls 60 to 40.