What the events of the last ten years have demonstrated is that a drawly Southern Republican and a clipped Northern Democrat will substantively govern in the same manner, engage the same means, and pursue the same ends.
This is true. There is, effectively, zero difference between McCain and Obama on foreign policy, aside from, perhaps, the tone. Sure, Obama bows to foreign leaders, and I can understand the disgust with that, but…meh. Show me how that changes things in my life. McCain would also be promising drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, if only to save his party from further disaster in the midterms. Sure, the numbers might be different, but that’s only noteworthy if you are up for deployment, related to someone who’s up for deployment, or have a contract to supply goods and services to people on deployment.
Likewise, domestically, the differences would be subtle. Would McCain not have introduced some form of health-care reform that kept in place all of the insurance companies, but regulated them more heavily? Here, again, the differences are that, perhaps, there would not have been an individual mandate and, certainly, there would be fewer cries of socialism. But, in the end, the McCain Health Care Bill would probably look an awful lot like the Obama Health Care Bill. And let’s not get started on the Big Oil Spill, which, aside from McCain’s ability to lose his temper, would not have played out any differently than it did regardless of who was in office.
And yet, contra my thesis, politics do matter, if only because these small differences have the ability to produce great variances in results over the long-term (see, e.g., Supreme Court Justices). So I guess elections do matter, even if the things we actually fight over (Elizabeth Warren) are irrelevant.