I think Aikido IS different. When I studied Judo the objective was sport, and winning matches. Those who studied Judo seriously spoke about another ultimate objective of self mastery; but it wasn't the focus of what I was being taught. When I fenced I was taught to be an effective foil wielder and to score points; those who took it seriously saw lessons in it that applied to their lives and pointed towards another ultimate objective; but it was not required and really wasn't what my lessons were about; they were about winning bouts.
In Aikido I'm taught that my technique is a vehicle, that I must be relaxed and in harmony with my attacker if I am to succeed in my throws. That ultimately my protection is from being in harmony with my attacker; not tense, not afraid not 'strong' as I understood strength from my youth. I'm taught that that attitude works at all levels; that it's not easy to develop it that it's worth pursuing it.
This has nothing to do with other martial arts that I know of. So the content is different; and I don't get the same feel at the local "Green-Cobra/Flying-Bear" super kickboxer karate Mc Belt and Trophy shop.
I don't know about the politics of Aikido.