Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Anouar Majid: America's Two-Party Politics Is Stuck in the 1950s

Created: 24 July, 2015
Updated: 16 October, 2022
3 min read

There is a sufficient lack of political discourse in the United States. Independent voices, now representing 45 percent of the national electorate, are not heard in mainstream political discussions. Citizens are presented with two choices at the polls, in the media, and even in every-day political discussions: Republican or Democrat?

This represents a tragedy for the public at large. We are presented with two, often very similar choices. Yet, the American public is extremely diverse and intelligent. The public is waking up to the fact that a mere two choices no longer satisfies their needs as citizens or the country's needs and responsibilities as a global power.

Anouar Majid is a professor at the University of New England (which has campuses in Portland and Biddeford, Maine, as well as Tangier, Morocco), author, and vice president for Global Affairs and Communication. In an interview for IVN, Majid stated that "he traditional party system way too dated for the realities of the 21st century." The language of politics today is "stuck in the 1950s," he said. While public opinions have evolved, the political system has not.

Majid argues that the political parties have "hijacked the political discourse." The two-party system allows the Democratic and Republican parties to absorb grassroots movements, loosely affiliated with one side of the ideological spectrum, and then drown out those differing voices under one ideological tent.

What is dangerous about limiting discourse in this way is that you "end up disenfranchising a large chunk of the population," Majid explained.

The impact of disenfranchisement is ideological alienation, skepticism of career politicians, and cynicism in the democratic process at large. When people feel their voice is not recognized by the politicians chosen to represent them, they disengage from democratic participation.

Majid argued that Americans are experiencing not only ideological alienation from the two parties, but social and economic alienation, as well. He explained that those in the lower socioeconomic strata "do not see any of their voice reflected in the parties and feel abandoned by the process."

Empirical evidence confirms Majid's sentiments. Political scientist Larry Bartels found that both Republicans and Democrats are not responsive to the lower third of Americans. In fact, politicians over-represent those in the top third of the income bracket.

When prompted to discuss solutions to this phenomenon, Majid concluded that the movement needs to come from the grassroots. Even when progressive speakers, who represent different ideologies like democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, try to change the discourse, they get drowned out by the political parties.

There is a "sense of frustration and maybe even defeatism - they feel they are going against Goliath no chance of changing things," Majid said. People like Sanders and Warren cannot do it alone. Majid contends that grassroots efforts are critical to increasing independent voices in mainstream discourse.

Majid explained that when people look at the United States today, they see much of the same language and syntax as they do from the 1950s. Other nations need to see the United States as the complex, diverse, and innovative country that it is, he said. Independent voices have to keep pushing through diverse views in as many social forums as possible.

Majid concluded that people have evolved to gather outside of political parties in different forms of civil society, such as non-governmental organizations, Twitter, Facebook, independent media, etc. The two-party political machine should do the same.

Photo Credit: ckeyes888 / shutterstock.com

Read more

joined hands
10 Reasons Why Americans Are Not as Divided as You Think
Photo by on  Party leaders, politicians, and media pundits and talking heads would have US voters b...
28 February, 2024
7 min read
LetUsVote: New Campaign Launches to End Discrimination Against Independent Voters
Open Primaries, in partnership with Unite America, announced the launch of LetUsVote Wednesday, a nationwide initiative that aims to mobilize and empower independent voters, who make up the largest voting bloc in the US but are treated like second-class voters....
27 February, 2024
4 min read
For Good or Bad, Primary Changes May Be Coming to Elections Near You
Photo Credit:  The last couple of years have seen an increase in states looking to change their prim...
26 February, 2024
4 min read
The Primary Problem: Only 8% of Voters Elect 83% of Our Representatives
In his latest podcast, former Democratic presidential candidate and Forward Party Co-Founder Andrew ...
26 February, 2024
3 min read
Blame This One on Secretary of State Weber
Eight years ago, there was a competition still in play between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton wh...
26 February, 2024
4 min read
Kansas Bill Would Make It Impossible for Many Independents to Run for Statewide Office
Photo By:  The Kansas House approved a bill Thursday that aims to make it substantially harder for i...
23 February, 2024
4 min read