No matter how good or bad a politician's ideology, or however noble or preposterous his utopian plans, his genuine goal is power.
Party and ideology regardless, almost all politicians first seek to aggrandize power, typically by expanding the regulatory bureaucracy and the size of the government budget.
The more chores the politicians give themselves and government to do, the more tax revenues and authority to which they lay claim at the expense of liberty.
Consider the convergence of Republicans and Democrats on two issues, one of which they dare not disagree on, and one of which they used to disagree on.
On the first, Social Security, both parties agree that this unconstitutional and fruitless scam on taxpayers, must be "fixed" before it goes "broke."
It can't be fixed and is broke, but both parties relentlessly angle for the votes of old people terrified of losing benefits. As in most fights for increased welfare, Republicans are more easily cast in the role of tight-wads who would throw infirm old ladies out in the snow.
On Social Security, demagoguery is the order of the day. But even worse, everyone simply agrees that Social Security is a legitimate function of government.
No one ever asks why government has this responsibility, where government gets the authority for it, where a politician gets the right to tell someone how to save money, or worse, give one man's potential savings to someone else. And the Constitution? Don't bring it up.
But on to education. Time was, the GOP wanted to scrap the federal education department. That never happened, and now, Bush is pumping money into this unconstitutional, destructive agency faster than you can say "strategery."
Oddly, the same conservatives now bragging about the worthless "No Child Left Behind Act," backed dumping the whole shebang 20 years ago.
What happened? When Ronald Reagan came to power, conservative Republicans suddenly had control of a massive bureaucracy; all that money, and here the old man had promised to return it to the taxpayers. Not on your life, they said. Why abolish the department now? We can use it for our own ends.
Twenty years ago, the GOP stood for trimming back government, but now goes whole hog for it. Conservative Republicans jostle with liberal Democrats for a spot from which to poke their snouts in the trough.
Thus are the parties always angling for the vote. Votes navely believe they give one party more power and control of the government, but they are voting for only one party: the party of expanding government. The bigger programs get, the more tax money they require.
Republicans favor tax cuts not because the power to tax is the power to destroy, but because they believe cuts stimulate the economy, which will increase tax revenue to pay for unconstitutional programs. Of course, this means more power for the GOP.
So it doesn't matter who is elected.
The parties differ not in kind, but only in degree, and a slim degree at that. We have two parties in name, but one ideology: the ideology of power.
As Howard Phillips once said, the Democrat train heads for the cliff at 90 mph, the GOP train at 70. Either way, you're going off the cliff.
We need a different train heading in the opposite direction.
Syndicated columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.