“Is there a fundamental difference between you and your opponent on this issue?”

We have heard this question asked over and over again in the media and on the debates, always with an instinctive and convincing “yes” as a response from both Obama and Romney.

We are led to believe by each candidate that Armageddon would ensue should the other take office; that their visions of America are so fundamentally different that this two party system does actually do justice to the multi-dimensional political spectrum. But how honest is this? What choices do American voters really have in this election?

They can choose between one candidate who passed a law allowing the government to detain American citizens indefinitely without a trial, and another who would keep that law untouched. They have the choice between one candidate who enacted a coercive and seemingly unconstitutional healthcare law, and another who actually created that law while serving as governor. One passed a bill transferring trillions of taxpayers’ dollars (that they didn’t have) to private businesses, and the other took credit for the idea. American voters can choose between one candidate who seemingly doesn’t understand what the words “deficit” and “debt” even mean, and one who will run deficits until 2064 (under his “austere” economic plan). One never closed Guantanamo like he promised he would, the other wants to double its size. The candidate for “peace” has grown military expenditures by 25% since George Bush; the other says it’s not enough and wants to bomb Iran. Both want to continue the ridiculously wasteful and violent war on drugs. Neither will repeal the onerous Patriot Act. Neither will finally legalize gay marriage nation-wide; one will, in fact, make it illegal while the other will pass this decision on to the states, allowing each state to discriminate how they wish.

Confused about who is who in the above paragraph? I don’t blame you. And these were only the highlights I could fit into a 600 word column.

The fact is, the media is doing Americans a disservice to portray these candidates as polar opposites. On almost every single major issue facing the public, these two completely agree on principle and quibble over the minutiae. The consistent and troubling theme that permeates their visions of America is one of an ever-growing government that controls and oversees more and more of your everyday life.

Romney wants to regulate trade between nations to serve the ambiguous “best interests” of America, limit women’s access to abortions, revoke constitutional rights to protect Americans from “terrorism” and help out his rich friends on Wall Street while he’s at it.

Obama seemingly wants to regulate, subsidize, nationalize, or license everything in the country (how’s that helping the unemployment rate?), force American citizens to purchase a privately provided product without their consent, escalate the already horrifying drone attacks on foreign civilians in Pakistan, all while institutionalizing “too big to fail” with the Dodd-Frank act, leaving future Americans on the hook for more bailouts.

I recall a president once campaigned on the idea of change; change we can all believe in. Where is the candidate who will end crony-capitalism once-and-for- all by ending bailouts, subsidies, transfers, and anti-competitive regulations? Who will govern on everyone’s behalf, like the constitution intended, by passing laws that apply to everyone in the country equally? Why has no candidate proposed to balance the budget, acknowledging the fact that future generations of Americans will be crippled by massive unfunded liabilities and structural debts facing the nation totaling over $60 trillion? Why will no one end the wars, both abroad against “terrorists” and domestically against civil liberties?

America needs to return to its founding principles: freedom, peace and limited government, before the constitution becomes nothing more than an inconvenient impediment for politicians and their special interests. Unfortunately, both mainstream candidates represent the latter.