Obama, Romney: Two sides of the same Presidential coin?
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 18:10
With the conclusion of the third and final Presidential debate, Americans have become well acquainted with the differences between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Lines have been drawn in the proverbial political sand, and Americans are left to choose between the differing positions put forth by both candidates.
However, while the candidates certainly have drastically different viewpoints on a wide variety of issues, there are several critical issues that the candidates completely agree on.
Unfortunately, the similar positions held by both candidates have far reaching, negative impacts on American society and various societies throughout the world. Despite the important, and often fatal, nature of these issues, they have been virtually ignored by the mainstream media.
Regardless of the lack of attention these topics have received, they are immensely relevant and affect millions of people across the world on a daily basis. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that voters are not only aware of the differences, but also the similarities, that both candidates share on important issues.
First, let’s look at the so-called “War on Drugs.” Many people were shocked and dismayed to see that, in the final debate which focused on foreign policy, not a single moment was devoted to discussing the drug war.
This lack of attention is disturbing both because of the proximity of the main battlefield of this war, Mexico, and the ways in which the various policies that have resulted from the war on drugs have negatively affected American citizens.
In 2006, when Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office, he launched, with encouragement and financial support from Washington, a military-led offensive against the drug cartels. Since this offensive, it is estimated that over 60,000 Mexican's have lost their lives, yet the cartels, as well as their product, remain as prevalent and powerful as ever.
Governments across Latin America have grown weary of Washington's impossible demands to militarily stop the production and distribution of illicit drugs. Some invited the U.S. to sit down at the Summit of the Americas to discuss alternative policies, such as legalization and education.
However, despite growing opposition and mounting evidence of the failure of current policies, both Obama and Romney maintain staunch prohibitionist stances towards drugs.
Domestically, the prohibitionist stances held by both candidates are increasingly at odds with the American public. A recent Gallup poll showed that 50 percent of Americans are in favor of the legalization of marijuana.
While 50 percent of American's may favor marijuana legalization, both Obama and Romney are in strict opposition. Despite promises to the contrary, Obama has unleashed the DEA and federal prosecutors on medical marijuana users in states like California. In an appearance in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney promised to fight legalization tooth and nail.
The war on drugs has also seen a cataclysmic rise in the imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders. Because of this, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 730 out of every 100,000 people in prison.
"I think putting someone in prison for drug possession is completely ridiculous," general studies student Doug Ziegler said. "I mean, in some cases drug offenders get locked up longer than rapists. Something is definitely wrong with that.”
Regardless of shifting opinions concerning the drug war, Obama and Romney remain steadfast in their prohibitionist approach toward drugs. Both are determined to continue the war on drugs at the cost of the freedoms and lives of thousands of individuals throughout the world.
Another issue the candidates agree upon is the use of remote controlled drone aircraft in the military. The use of drones to carry out targeted strikes against suspected terrorists have sky rocketed under the Obama administration. These extra-judicial assassinations have raised many moral and legal concerns.
Drones primarily carry out two different kinds of strikes. The first are personality strikes, in which a known individual is tracked and targeted. The other are signature strikes, in which individuals or groups of people that exhibit militant characteristics, but are not specifically identified, are targeted.
"What really blows my mind about drones is that these things are piloted by guys thousands of miles away," general studies student Daniel Luzzi stated. “It’s like a video game for these guys, you know? They're sitting in front of a TV screen with a controller in their hands, launching missiles at people as if they were playing Call of Duty."
The controversy surrounding the use of drones pertains to whether or not the President has the authority to order extrajudicial assassinations. Obama certainly seems to think so, as he has carried out over 250 drone strikes to date, more than six times the amount carried out under Bush.
Foreign terrorists are not the only victims of extrajudicial assassination by drone. Obama has even ordered the execution of American citizens - radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his sixteen year old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.
Despite the fact that no law exists giving the President the power to be judge, jury and executioner, Romney is in complete agreement with the precedent set by the Obama administration.
When Scott Pelley of CBS asked Romney whether or not he believed it was appropriate for an American president, on the president's request alone, to order the death of an American citizen suspected of terrorism, he responded "Absolutely."