The election results are in, and those who are reading this piece have an advantage I do not: They know whether George W. Bush or John Kerry has won.  (This issue went to press the day after the election.)  Regardless of the outcome, however, we already know a good deal about what the next President will do, because Bush and Kerry are in substantial agreement over most issues, and their few differences are often more apparent than real.  This convergence is all the more remarkable when we consider that many of the positions Bush and Kerry share are not especially popular with many Americans.

Consider immigration.  Polls consistently show that a great majority of Americans favor both the elimination of illegal immigration and a substantial reduction in legal immigration.  This is also an issue about which many people are passionate: CBS’s Bob Schieffer, during the final presidential debate, indicated that he had received more e-mails about immigration than about any other issue.  Yet neither Bush nor Kerry favors reducing immigration.  Instead, both told Schieffer that they intend to push for legislation allowing potentially millions of new immigrants to come to America as guest workers, and both were in general agreement that the solution to illegal immigration is to legalize the illegal immigrants, not to require or even encourage them to go home.

A substantial number of Americans also consistently tell pollsters that they oppose free trade.  Neither Bush nor Kerry, however, is willing to challenge free-trade dogma.  When asked by Schieffer what he would tell someone who had lost his job to foreign competition, Bush promised that the federal government would pay for community college for the unemployed.  Kerry boasted that he had told a union audience that he could not stop outsourcing, although he, too, promised to spend more federal money training people for jobs that will likely prove no more enduring than the wave of technical and financial jobs now being lost to India.  Neither man suggested even the possibility of reconsidering the global free-trade regime that has devastated American manufacturing and depressed American wages.

A slight majority of Americans now tell pollsters that the war in Iraq was a mistake, and a substantial number of Americans consistently favor a less interventionist foreign policy.  Yet neither candidate supports an American withdrawal from Iraq, and both advocate “victory” there, whatever that may mean.  And the outlook is for yet more intervention, regardless of who wins in November.  The neocon apparat that successfully lobbied for war in Iraq is now pushing for war in Iran, and Bush has done nothing to lessen the neocon influence in his administration, affirming, instead, that he will remain “on the offensive.”  And not only has Kerry criticized Bush for not being harder on Iran, he has spoken in favor of “humanitarian” intervention in such places as Darfur.

A substantial number of Americans also worry about the growing size of both the deficit and the federal government.  Each candidate is committed to expanding both.  The nonpartisan Concord Coalition has calculated that Bush’s promises will increase the deficit by $1.326 trillion over the next four years, while Kerry’s promises will cost some $1.269 trillion over the same period.  Neither candidate has promised to eliminate even one federal program, and Bush, in particular, seems proud of vastly expanding the role of the federal government in education.

Even on social issues, the differences between Bush and Kerry are largely rhetorical.  Neither candidate is willing to oppose affirmative action, despite its continued unpopularity with most Americans.  Bush’s opposition to “gay marriage” is thus far limited to saying nice things occasionally about a proposed constitutional amendment that he must know will never be enacted, and Bush is unwilling to go even that far on abortion, saying that America is not ready for the overturn of Roe v. Wade.  He has promised that he will have no “litmus test” for his judicial appointees, making it all but certain that he will not decisively alter the balance of power on the Supreme Court, even if he has several appointments to make.

After four years of either Bush or Kerry, America will be farther down the road toward a future marked by an enormous and expanding federal government, endless interventions abroad, and a shrinking middle class whose standard of living has been eroded by continued free trade and mass immigration, not to mention the need to pay for all the federal government’s follies at home and around the world.  At best, we will see feckless opposition from the White House to the continuing displacement of Christian values from the public sphere.  Americans alarmed by this prospect should begin the search now for a candidate who will actually stand for policies that are both rooted in the American tradition and supported by a majority of Americans—before that majority begins to disappear under the weight of the misguided policies and relentless leftist propaganda of the last several decades.