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Obama vs. Romney, illusion of a choice: Analyst

Contrary to what is commonly portrayed, the two US presidential candidates are in “full-scale agreement” on many of most consequential policies, leaving the American voters with “little choice” on Election Day, an analyst says.

“Wednesday night’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney underscored a core truth about America’s presidential election season: the vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process,” Glenn Greenwald wrote in an article published on The Guardian website.

The columnist on civil liberties and US national security said the exclusion is in large part “due to the fact that, despite frequent complaints that America is plagued by a lack of bipartisanship, the two major party candidates are in full-scale agreement on many of the nation’s most pressing political issues.”

“As a result these are virtually ignored, drowned out by a handful of disputes that the parties relentlessly exploit to galvanize their support base and heighten fear of the other side.”

Greenwald noted that the “long list of highly debatable and profoundly significant” policies left out due to bipartisan agreement include the US penal and anti-narcotics policies, a rapidly growing domestic surveillance state, job-killing free trade agreements, climate change policies, the justice department’s refusal to prosecute the Wall Street criminals who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis, Obama’s dramatically escalated drone attacks overseas and the targeting of American citizens for extrajudicial assassinations at home.

“Yet Americans whose political perceptions are shaped by attentiveness to the presidential campaign would hardly know that such radical and consequential policies even exist. That is because here too there is absolute consensus between the two parties.”

“On still other vital issues, such as America’s steadfastly loyal support for Israel and its belligerence towards Iran,” Greenwald said, “the two candidates will do little other than compete over who is most aggressively embracing the same absolutist position.”

“The harm from this process is not merely the loss of what could be a valuable opportunity to engage in a real national debate. Worse, it is propagandistic: by emphasizing the few issues on which there is real disagreement between the parties, the election process ends up sustaining the appearance that there is far more difference between the two parties, and far more choice for citizens, than is really offered by America’s political system.”

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