It took an educated slave—Frederick Douglass—to correctly observe that it took a war fought between whites to free his people. And what would an era of peace between whites bring? A culture of overwhelming violence waged against most of those newly freed slaves unlucky enough to be left in the camp with the losing faction. Countless thousands of threats, mutilations, home burnings, murders by hanging, shootings and beatings—unchecked, daily terrorism—drove African Americans not just from voting and holding positions of authority but from their own farms and livelihoods. It took almost a century to fully enforce the vote and other basic rights for them, and they never got their land back because the important thing—the regional economic issues raised by the practice of slavery—had been answered for the whites in power. What happened after the slaves were freed didn't matter because what actually causes strife and controversy among the upper-echelons of government is disagreement on how the game is played.
Let the peasants distract themselves with morality, while the mighty worry about what actually keeps a vast, diverse republic working, with stability at the top. And that takes a lot of general agreement on things people like to think they should have some say in. The isolated moral and cultural issues that have little to do with the national systems that directly effect our lives are dangled in front of us because Republicans and Democrats have mostly reached a working bilateralism on the important things. And because we are a bunch of undereducated, willfully uninformed fools who happily allow ourselves to be distracted by our own cultural diversity, campaigns can bait and switch us on real economics and policy. Even the shallow perspectives on the 24-hour news cycle, when they periodically raise their heads above the smoke from the incendiary rhetoric of false and petty conflicts that must inefficiently fuel our democracy, have sometimes reached the agreement that there is too much agreement.
The FCC has no right to regulate telecoms to make sure poor and rural communities have Internet access, or to enforce network neutrality. Republicans have always had this stance, but Obama, who campaigned hard for network neutrality, has done a 180 degree turn. He has seen increased mergers and oligopolization in his term.
The executive can kidnap citizens of their own or any nation on earth from any place on the planet for torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial or murder them and neighboring family and bystanders at will. The distinctions here don't honestly mean differences. Republicans have gotten lawyers to say many of these things were fine, and then did them. Obama actually got Congress to enact clever "laws" that gave these actions a veneer of legality—which, of course, is as false, as it is evil.
The foreign policy controversies of the Bush Administration should not only be laid completely to rest, but the policies themselves should be spectacularly and enthusiastically expanded upon. Self-appointed authority to create money and make it rain on the military has made America a de facto hyperpower with no earthly equal. Thus, neither party is about to be seen naysaying our cushy, no-rules global empire. It's accurate that second term presidents have more power to devote to getting around to accomplishing their more intimate policy goals, but I bet Obama has dropped that issue as if it were hot.
— Wiley Robinson is a senior in ecology and evolutionary biology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.