“There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats.”
--George Wallace, the last 3rd party candidate to get electoral votes (1968)
In a two-party system you don’t have an awful lot of choice and there will, inevitably, be positions that are not covered by the two mainstream parties. Despite my click-bait title, I believe there are many key issues that distinguish the Republicans and Democrats, but in this post I will be listing oft-cited commonalities between them.
It isn’t always a bad thing when the left and the right agree. One woman’s duopoly may be another woman’s bipartisanship. But as the quantity of similarities goes up and your disagreement in one or more of these areas increases, so too does the merit of voting for a 3rd party.
I also want to point out that not every Democrat and Republican shares their party’s typical stance. You will have to do your own research on a case-by-case basis.
Oft-cited commonality between Republicans and Democrats:
- Willingness to accept donations and other forms of support from corporations and their lobbyists in exchange for supporting policies not in the best interest of American citizens.
- Support for or acceptance of broad powers, rights, legal exceptions and tax exemptions for corporations.
- Corporate welfare, such as bailouts.
- Consolidation of power for a political and/or financial elite.
- Belief in a fundamentally capitalist economy.
- Willingness to use military intervention abroad. “Pro-war” in practice if not in rhetoric.
- On the flip side, reluctance to go to war except for the U.S.’s political or financial interest. Failure to take definitive military action to defend human rights abroad.
- Willingness to take extra-judiciary covert action abroad, such as spying, supplying weapons and funding in secret and supporting coups (and likely assassinations).
- Use of drone warfare.
- Massive defense budgets and a large standing military.
- Violently punitive approach to solving issues like crime and terrorism.
- Pro-Israel. Non-recognition of Palestine as a state.
- Non-acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
- Failure to acknowledge or make reparations for slavery, the genocide of Native Americans and the occupation of their lands, or US war crimes. Often disinterest in even issuing apologies.
- Under-representation of women, minorities, members of the LGBTQIA community, practitioners of non-Christian religions, persons with disabilities, and/or veterans.
- Support for free trade.
- Support for globalization.
- Non-isolationist policy in terms of trade and treaties.
- Tax simplification, but rarely radical tax reform such as flat tax, single tax or FairTax.
- Reluctance to pay down national debt and inefficacy at doing so.
- High spending rates (though where the money gets spent varies).
- Continuation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
- General support for “big government,” such as large discretionary budgets, involvement in the daily lives of citizens, and broad legal rights and powers of government agencies.
- Belief in centralized governmental authority.
- Soft on environmentalism, such as failing to take dramatic steps to slow climate change, put hard limits on arctic and offshore drilling, aggressively regulate corporations, federally mandate recycling, ban certain uses of plastic, etc.
- Belief in a monotheistic God and Judeo-Christian values.
- Separation of church and state. No official US religion.
- Unwillingness to appeal the second amendment.
- Implicit support of the two party system. De facto blackballing of 3rd parties and their representatives.
- In favor of the death penalty. Note that the DNC officially reversed its stance in 2016, but many prominent Democrat politicians are still in favor.
- Reluctance to adopt languages other than English (e.g. Spanish) as official languages or to publish government document in multiple languages.
This is just a partial list. Feel free to send me others. Please provide sources if there would be any question of doubt.