What Presidents Bush and Obama share includes providing bailouts for the financial institutions, expanding the authority of the Federal government while shedding itself of accountability, increasing the size and use of the military, and employing a gang warfare mentality when supporting or opposing other governments. Certainly there are some differences between the two. Yet, even in the differences, the general direction of the two presidents are the same. That directions is a move towards the consolidation of power and wealth.
The bailouts provided by both President Obama's and President Bush's administration were, in essence, an encouragement to keep doing business as usual. Bailout money without corrective restrictions were provided by both administrations. The beginning of the collapse here would be the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 by the Republican controlled Congress. This Act prevented commercial banks from acting like investment banks. It was the high risk behavior practiced by our commercial banks that has caused a steady number of bank closures each year and greatly contributed to the housing bubble collapse of 2008.
When President Bush's Administration pushed through the Patriot Act of 2001, he received harsh criticism from both liberals and the left--there are significant differences here. And when watching Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, we could see a creeping surveillance and authoritarianism being introduced by the Bush Administration. However valid the criticisms of the Patriot Act were, they are even more merited by Obama's 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows for the indefinite detainment of American citizens for the mere suspicion of supporting or being involved with terrorism. And even before the 2012 NDAA, American activists homes were searched or people were convicted (see Holder vs Humanitarian Law Project) for merely talking to groups classified as terrorist groups by the State Department. The subject of the conversations was how to nonviolently pursue goals.
Despite President Obama's antiwar campaign rants, his record shows that he meets, if not exceeds, Bush's willingness to wage war. This should come as no surprise except to those who did not pay close enough attention to candidate Obama's rhetoric. Leftists, such as Paul Street and Noam Chomsky, were quick to note that candidate Obama's antiwar criticisms of President Bush were not based on principles. Rather, candidate Obama denounced the Iraq War for its inefficient use of America's military resources as well as it had proved ineffective in the War on Terror. The resulting conclusion was that a President Obama would be more than willing to engage in wars if, in his view, these problems could be overcome. President Obama has done all he can to show that conclusion to be true with his expansion of the Afghanistan War into Pakistan as well as his use of American forces in Libya. All this was despite the destabilizing effects that our attacks on Pakistan have had on the country and the ties that some Libyan rebels had with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. One is tempted to ask who is next on the Obama hit list.
Finally, we must mention President Obama's support for the Israeli government's brutal occupation against the Palestinians as practicing a gang warfare mentality. Despite criticisms to the contrary, President Obama has not wavered in providing essential American for Israel to continue to occupy and steal land from the Palestinians. One only needs to check Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper and the statistics he provides for how much land the Israeli government had already taken from the Palestinians as well as what kind of life the Israeli government forces the Palestinians to live(see Halper's book An Israeli In Palestine). The Israeli government has not been hindered by President Obama in any way, shape or form from continuing its occupation, attacks and theft. And with its dependence on the U.S. for aid, if Obama had been working against Israel, we would have seen the effects.
Mere support for the Israeli government does not a follower of gang warfare make. However, showing a legitimate concern for Israeli civilian victims of terrorism while not showing an equal concern for their Palestinian counterparts does. A parallel can be drawn to the Obama Administration's concern for Syrian and Libyan victims of government suppression while remaining silent about the brutal tactics being used by the government of Bahrain on their protesters. Here, what makes government cruelty wrong in the eyes of the Obama Administration is not the morality of the acts themselves but the identity of those who practice them. The Obama Administration has remained relatively silent about Israel's brutal occupation and Bahrain's immoral use of force on their protesters while pretending to have a noble concern over the plight of civilians in Libya and Syria. Whether the Obama Administration will condemn or silently support a government's barbaric use of force on civilians depends on whether their government belongs to the same gang as the U.S. Such a practice shows one to be a supporter of gang warfare.
Actions speak louder than words. And despite the critical words that candidate Romney and the Republicans use on President Obama, President's Obama's actions show that the two have a great deal in common. Some on the Left consider President Obama to be a President W II. In too many critical areas, the above supports that monicker. And since Romney has not distanced himself from President Bush, how different would a Romney presidency be from Obama's?
All of this points to the fact that we have no real choice for president if we are content to stay within the two party system. Some on the Left, including friends of mine, advocate that we boycott this year's presidential election. Such is a mistake because to those in power, the protesting non-vote is equal to the apathetic non-vote. Just as some groups only understand force, politicians only understand numbers. The only way to get politicians to listen to us is to vote for somebody else. For those on the Right, the Constitution Party already nominated Virgil Goode as its presidential nominee. Those who are not conservative can choose between Stewart Alexander, a socialist, or whomever the Green Party will nominate. If we want change, it can only begin with how we vote but it does not have to end there.