From what I can make of the presidential election campaign, there are differences and also disturbing similarities in the respective policies of Obama and Romney. In the end, I choose Obama over Romney as, in Phyllis Bennis' words, the "least worst option."

The differences between Romney and Obama are not trivial. Here are some of them. Romney will raise military spending more than Obama will. Romney will cease federal contributions to Planned Parenthood and support moves to outlaw abortion; Obama will continue support of the federal support for planned parenthood and the right of women to make their own choice about the reproductive aspects of their lives. If there are opening on the Supreme Court, count on Romney to nominate conservative judges to the Supreme Court, while Obama will nominate judges with moderate records and keep the court from continuing to be or becoming even more corporate friendly. Romney opposes federal government stimulus spending, while Obama's 2009 stimulus program stopped the economy's decent into prolonged economic recession or depression. Unemployed workers have gained some support from the extension of unemployment insurance under Obama's administration, a program that is not to the liking of Romney and his campaign. On taxes, Obama favors tax increases for the top 1%, while Romney favors tax cuts except with respect to the prospect of closing tax deductions benefiting the majority of Americans. Romney vacillates on whether to partially privatize Social Security and Medicare. Obama opposes such changes. Obama has helped to initiate a new comprehensive health care program. It's not perfect; for example there are no explicit cost-control provisions. But the healthcare program has already or will in the near future provide health insurance coverage for over an additional 30 million Americans, eliminate life-time caps, and bar insurance companies from rejecting people who have "pre-existing" conditions. Romney promises to eliminate "Obamacare" on the first day of his presidency. Obama has increased support for the health care of veterans. Obama has recognized the problem of outsourcing jobs from America to China and other low-wage countries, referring to Bain Capital as one example, a company Romney helped to start and from which he still benefits as a major shareholder.

There are also eerie similarities between Obama and Romney on some major policy issues. Obama has done little to reform the big financial institutions on Wall Street. Banks are still to-big-to-fail and bank executives still get huge compensation packages. Unfortunately, Obama has strengthened the ability of the federal government to invade our privacy and with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, to detain people without a reason or the protection of the law. His administration has supported increases in military spending (better than Romney, but not good enough). It has proceeded to increase the use of drones in targeting "terrorists" but that also kill innocent civilians. Obama has agreed to go ahead with the modernization of US nuclear weapons, encouraging or legitimating the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation. Obama's “all of the above” energy policy continues to have too much reliance on fossil fuels, remains mostly silent on global climate change, enthusiastically encourages risky drilling in the oceans and deep underground, and shows no interest in a carbon tax. The dubious Dream Act and education policy pays little attention to the dire condition of schools in poor communities, little respect for teachers, and how learning is stifled by spending so much time in preparation for standardized tests. Obama's one-sided view on Israel's treatment of Palestinians continues unfortunately a long-standing bipartisan policy that ignores the atrocious conditions imposed by the Israelis on the Palestinians.

So what are the options? Support Romney and get all or mostly a return to the worst aspects of the eight years of the Bush administration. Support Obama and get some good policies and some bad policies. Is something is better than nothing. It's not clear. On the one hand, perhaps with Obama the advance toward oligarchy, plutocracy, inequality, and environmental devastation will be slowed, though there isn't a lot of time. Time is nothing to snicker about. With a little more time, the door to meaningful change stays ajar. On the other hand, with Romney the march toward the right is accelerated and the door is slammed shut.