Black Agenda Report on Obama & Romney
Source Carrol Cox
Date 12/09/25/09:54
Closer Than You Think: Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

TOO MUCH agreement between Republicans and Democrats has always been bad
news for those at the bottom of America's class and racial totem poles.

Back in 1875, Frederick Douglass observed that it took a war among the
whites to free his people from slavery. What then, he wondered, would an era
of peace among the whites bring us? He already knew the answer. Louisiana
had its Colfax Massacre two years earlier. A wave of thousands upon
thousands of terroristic bombings, shootings, mutilations, murders and
threats had driven African Americans from courthouses, city halls,
legislatures, from their own farms, businesses and private properties and
from the voting rolls across the South. They didn't get the vote back for 80
years, and they never did get the land back. But none of that mattered
because on the broad and important questions of those days there was at last
peace between white Republicans and white Democrats --- squabbles around the
edges about who'd get elected, but wide agreement on the rules of the game.

Like Douglass, the shallow talking heads who cover the 2012 presidential
campaign on corporate media have noticed out loud the remarkable absence of
disagreement between Republican and Democratic candidates on many matters.
They usually mention what the establishment likes to call "foreign policy."
But the list of things Republicans and Democrat presidential candidates
agree on, from coddling Wall Street speculators, protecting mortgage
fraudsters and corporate wrongdoers to preventing Medicare For All to
so-called "foreign policy," "free trade," "the deficit" "clean coal and safe
nuclear power" and "entitlement reform," is clearly longer and more
important than the few points of mostly race and style, upon which they

15 - Although unemployment is the highest it's been since the Great
Depression, the federal government should NOT enact any sort of WPA-style
program to put millions of people back to work. Under Democrat Franklin
Roosevelt in the 1930s, Depression-era unemployment was tackled head on by
direct federal hiring to dig subways, build roads, schools, parks, sewers,
recreational facilities and public buildings. Oblivious of this history,
Democrat Barack Obama maintains that only the private sector can or should
create jobs.

14 - Medicare, Medicaid and social security are "entitlements" that need to be
cut to relieve what they call "the deficit." Republicans have been on record
for this since forever, though they claim not to want to mess with the
Medicare people already over 65 are getting. One of the first acts of the
Obama presidency was to appoint a bipartisan panel stacked with "deficit
hawks" like Republican Allan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles to
recommend raising retirement ages and cutting back Medicaid, Medicare and
social security, and pass a law directing Congress to have an up or down
no-amendments vote on its recommendations. Fortunately the "cat food
commission", as it was called, was deadlocked and offered none. But Obama
and top Democrats, most recently House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi
continue to express their readiness for some kind of "grand compromise" with
Republicans on this issue.

13 - Climate change treaties and negotiations that might lead to them should
be avoided at all costs. The differences between them are only style.
Democrats admit that climate change exists and is man-made, Republicans say
it's a myth. But both ignored the Kyoto protocol and Obama like Bush before
him, has worked tirelessly to delay, derail and boycott any actual talks
that might lead to constructive international climate change agreements.

12 - NAFTA was such a great thing it really should be extended to Central and
South America and the entire Pacific rim. Again, there are differences in
style. On the 2008 campaign trail, Obama sometimes mumbled about
renegotiating parts of NAFTA, and such. But even before the primaries were
done, press reports had him assuring the Canadian government this was only
campaign rhetoric, raw meat for the rubes. In four years he has pushed
NAFTA-like "free trade" corporate rights agreements with South Korea, most
of Central America and is now secretly hammering out something called the
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

11 - Banksters and Wall Street speculators deserve their bailouts and
protection from criminal liability, but underwater and foreclosed homeowners
deserve nothing. Well, maybe not exactly nothing. Republicans think
underwater homeowners deserve blame for forcing banksters to offer millions
of fraudulent high-interest loans were then re-sold to investors around the
world. Democrats think underwater homeowners deserve empty promises of help
that never quite arrives for most of the foreclosed, the about-to-be
foreclosed, their families and communities. But both agree on free money for
banksters and speculators but no moratorium on foreclosures and no criminal
investigations of mortgage and securities fraud.

10 - Palestinians should be occupied, dispossessed and ignored. Iran should be
starved and threatened from all sides. Cuba should be embargoed, and
Americans prohibited from going there to see what its people have done in a
half century free of Yankee rule. Black and brown babies and their parents,
relatives and neighbors should be bombed with drones in Pakistan, Yemen,
Somalia and similar places. The politicians and corporate commentators have
a misleading name for this. They call it "foreign policy." The realistic
term for it is global empire.

9 - Africa should be militarized, destabilized, plundered and where necessary,
invaded by proxy armies like those of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi or Kenya, or
directly by Western air and ground forces, as in Libya. President Georgia
Bush announced the formation of AFRICOM, the US military command for the
continent which has officially swallowed all US civilian diplomatic
presence. But only a black US president, even under the cover of
"humanitarian war" could have invaded an African nation and openly
dispatched special forces to Central Africa.

8 - US Presidents can kidnap citizens of their own or any nation on earth from
anyplace on the planet for torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial or
murder them and neighboring family and bystanders at will. To be perfectly
fair, there are distinctions between Republicans and Democrats here that
don't amount to differences. Republicans Cheney and Bush got their lawyers
to say these things were OK and did them. Democrat Obama got Congress to
enact "laws" giving these acts a veneer of fake legality, something a
Republican probably could not have done.

7 - Oil and energy companies, and other mega-polluters must be freed to drill
offshore almost everywhere, and permitted to poison land and watersheds with
fracking to achieve "energy independence". The Republicans say "drill baby
drill" but it seems only Democrats can chill out enough supposed
"environmentalists" to make this happen. Obama campaigned on restricting
offshore drilling four years ago, and reversed himself just before the BP
oil disaster in the Gulf. The White House cooperated with BP in lying to the
public about the extent of the disaster and has shielded BO from paying
anything like the value of actual damages incurred to livelihoods, human
lives and the environment.

6 - The FCC should not and must not regulate telecoms to ensure that poor and
rural communities have access to internet, or to guarantee network
neutrality. Republicans have always been in favor of digital redlining,
against network neutrality. Barack Obama claimed on the campaign trail he'd
take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing network neutrality. But he
appointed as FCC chair a man who helped write the infamous
Telecommunications Act of 1995, which gave away the government-built
internet backbone to a handful of immensely powerful telecoms like AT&T and
Comcast, and flatly reversed himself on network neutrality. The Department
of Justice was forced to stop the ATT-T-Mobile merger by a storm of public
outrage, but approved the Comcast-NBC deal.

5 - Of course there really ARE such things as "clean coal" and "safe nuclear
energy". Again these are things Republicans have always pretended to
believe. At the 2008 Democratic convention Democrat Barack Obama joined
them, declaring he intended to be the president of "clean coal and safe
nuclear energy." Obama is building a wave of 33 nuclear plants across the
country, the first two in mostly black and poor communities of Georgia and
South Carolina where leaky existing nukes are causing cancer epidemics. The
people know these things are myths. But Republican and Democratic candidates
for office, all the way down to state and county officials seem not to.

4 - Immigrants must be jailed and deported in record numbers. To be really
fair, one should note that on this issue Republicans talk a mean game about
sending them all back and jailing tens or hundreds of thousands along the
way. But only President Obama has walked the walk, deporting over a million
immigrants in his term in office, often with little or no due process and
after housing many for months in atrocious privatized immigration prisons.

3 - No Medicare For All. Forget about it eliminating the Medicare age
requirement so that all Americans would qualify.. Republicans never wanted
Medicare even for seniors, let alone everybody. Six or seven years ago
Illinois State Senator Obama was telling audiences that if they elected
Democrats to Congress, the Senate and the White House, they'd get single
payer health care. But once in office he excluded Medicare for All from the
proposals on the table, and enacted a national version of Massachusetts
RomneyCare, requiring everybody to purchase private health insurance or be

2 - No minimum wage increases for you, no right to form a union, no right to
negotiate or strike if you already have a union, and no enforcement or
reform of existing labor laws. Again, Republicans have always opposed
minimum wage laws. Obama promised to boost the minimum wage his first two
years in office, while he still had majorities in the House and Senate. But
he didn't do this, or pass legislation beefing up the right to organize
unions, which has been eroded under Democrat and Republican administrations

1 - The 40 year war on drugs must continue, and even mention of the prison
state is unthinkable. There are 2.3 million people in US prisons and jails
today, a per capita total that beats the world. Politicians of both parties
wag their fingers in multiple directions. But as Michelle Alexander points
out, if the US prison population were rolled back to say, only 1 million,
the level it was about 1980, this would mean one million jobs, as
contractors, sheriffs, cops, bailiffs, judges and functionaries of all kinds
would have to go out and find real jobs.

The rabbit hole goes still deeper. We didn't have to stop at these fifteen
points of Democrat-Republican agreement, but you get the idea. Just as in
Frederick Douglass's day, the more Democrats and Republicans agree, the
worse it is for the rest of us.

There was a time when black America had its own principles, and formed the
immovable leftmost rock of the American polity. But in the 21st century,
that rock has been dissolved by a tide of corporate money. With the rise of
a cohort of black corporate Democrats and a right wing black Democrat in the
White House there is no longer even any vaguely leftish influence on
Democratic party politics. The House Progressive Caucus is the biggest in
Congress, with over seventy members, but is powerless and irrelevant. Except
for stylistic flourishes, the music they listen to and the color of some
faces, the differences between Republicans and Democrats seem to exist
mostly in political marketing campaigns and inside our own heads.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of
the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

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