She wears white. He wears blue. She speaks about community. He talks about himself. She is chilly and sometimes nice. He is mean and sometimes funny. He says “manly” things. She talks about women’s rights.
And rarely have two candidates hated each other more. He says she is a criminal. She says he is a psychopath. The debates will be an international media bonanza to equal the Olympics.
There will be much entertainment value here, but not much enlightenment. In the end, we know the conclusion. The best thing going for her is that she is not him. The best thing going for him is that he is not her.
Beyond that, when it comes to actual belief structure and even specific policies, there is far less a difference. Both see the state as the answer to our problems and both see the presidency as the key to empower that state. Fabianism is a color gradient of fascism, and the reverse is also true.
Not even on specifics do they disagree that much. Both have sworn to uphold and build the domestic state. As for foreign policy, they both swear to make America dominate the world again, he through nationalism alone and she in working with European allies.
In days gone by, you could count on the Republicans to rally around some form of market liberalism, however weak. They would celebrate enterprise, talk of liberty, and herald free trade and business freedom generally.
But the new GOP standard bearer has changed that. With that gone, you are left with raw power.
And Hillary has moved the Democratic Party in the same direction. Gone are the warnings against war, surveillance, and waste in government. In his convention speech, President Obama said “we don’t look to be ruled.” One day later, she made clear: she intends to rule.
Yes, We Have Heard that Before
There were many strange moments in the Hillary Clinton fantasy hour at the Democratic Convention, but this one stands out. She said: “If you believe that we should say ‘no’ to unfair trade deals... that we should stand up to China... that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers...join us.”
She followed up with: “Now, you didn't hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention.”
But actually we heard almost exactly the same thing from Trump, who said at the GOP convention: “Our horrible trade agreements with China and many others, will be totally renegotiated. That includes renegotiating NAFTA to get a much better deal for America – and we’ll walk away if we don’t get the deal that we want.”
There’s much more.
She said: “If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.”
He said: “We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions more jobs.”
She said: “If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty — join us.”
That very day, Trump gave an interview on Fox in which he raged against the suggestion that he would cut the minimum wage. "You need to help people, and I know it’s not very Republican to say, but you need to help people…. I would say $10, but with the understanding that somebody like me is going to bring back jobs, I don’t want people to be in that $10 category for very long.”
As for a mandatory family leave policy, Hillary was all over it, blissfully unaware that this policy was originally a eugenic device to get women out of the workforce. Does Trump agree? According to his daughter Ivanka, the answer is yes: “As the mother of three young children myself, I know how hard it is to work while raising a family, and I also know that I am far more fortunate than most. American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties. They should be the norm.”
A Dime’s Worth
Parsing their policy differences is mostly a waste of time because none of them flow from any principled stand. Both embrace a ramshackle statist pragmatism with the presumption that if something is wrong with the world, government can fix it. The color of the fix can be red or brown but the source is always the same.
Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that the difference between he and she is really a matter of factions in one single party. It used to be common to say that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. And yet, we know that’s there’s always been some hyperbole to that claim. At least rhetorically, one made some overtures to the cause of classical liberalism.
This has evaporated, and the change is not only on the Republican side. She said not one word about civil liberties and he didn’t either.
It’s easy to despair. It takes just a bit of thought to realize that this is all a welcome development. The cause of freedom is different. It is not right or left, red, brown, or green. It is its own thing, a bright and shining light that remains lit no matter how thick the fog of politics. This has never been more clear than on this day.
Despite what she said and what he said, freedom alone remains the hope of the world.