The most uncontroversial differences have to do with the large majority of the population of the United States. For example, those who will have to bear the burdens of essentially freeing the rich from taxes and other social responsibilities. Or of destruction of Social Security and the limited health care system. Or workers who will not received the limited but real protection of OSHA. Or our grandchildren, who might like to have air to breathe. Or who will suffer from the effects of the huge deficits that are being consciously piled up. Etc. On these matters, the differences between the groups around Bush and those around Kerry are quite significant.
For the world, the differences have to do with the likelihood of international violence, including possibly terminal nuclear war. Bush sharply accelerated militarization of space (including “missile defense”) and dismantled the international regulatory apparatus (treaties, not as good as they should be, but not zero either), leading, as anticipated, to rapid increase in development of military capacity by those who feel particularly threatened, Russia and China in particular. The rapid increase in offensive military programs under Bush is so disturbing to mainstream strategic analysts that some go as far as to say that they are leading to “ultimate doom” (John Steinbrunner, in the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences). These things matter a great deal to the population of the world, which is why there is such extreme opposition to Bush and his cohorts worldwide. That includes potential targets of direct aggression.
It doesn’t take a microscope to see these differences. Many on the left seem far too casual about them, in my opinion. Not only is that wrong in itself, but it completely nullifies any possibility of appealing to the natural constituency of the left, at home or abroad. How far do you think one will get organizing people by saying, for example, we simply don’t give a damn about the fact that you’ll suffer more from Bush-style dismantling of the progressive achievements of the past century than by the programs of the political opposition?