Pennsylvania is an important state for primaries this year, with recent visitor Sen. Bernie Sanders gaining momentum and both parties vying for 189 Democratic delegates.
Unfortunately some voters feel they need to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”
The two-party system is like a triangle, where the two parties lean against each other for support and unaware common citizens form the base, connecting the two ends of the spectrum. Sitting on top, where the two parties meet, are the wealthy, who win no matter what, as it stands now.
Right away, you see a real ethical problem here: the illusion of choice. If there was only one party, then a revolution could topple it.
The first U.S. party, the Federalist Party, was challenged by those in government when Thomas Jefferson launched the “Democratic-Republican Party.”
The people who thrive off the two-party system thrive because it brings out extremes. In a real democracy, you need political equivocality, which has little to do with extremism and more to do with exchanging of ideas.
On top of navigating the two-party system, religion can come into play.
Advocate Saba Ahmed, a Muslim American, who founded the Republican Muslim Coalition in Washington, D.C., said in a recent interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNN that it’s unlikely for Muslim “Republicans” to return to the GOP due to Islamophobia. Not only was Ahmed’s demeanor calmer than Bartiromo’s, but Bartiromo also perpetrated victimization—she asked Ahmed what Muslims should do “to change the perception of Islam, Muslims, and refugees.”
Ahmed rescinded her Democratic affiliation in 2011. In a recent interview on Al Jazeera, she explained that Republican values like being pro-life, traditional marriage and capitalism align with Islamic beliefs. She says in the article that Democratic views like pro-LGBTQ community and pro-government are incompatible.
“[While] some of the social values [of the Democratic party] are good,” she said. “Mostly they promote same sex relations, which are completely forbidden in Islam. I have been extremely disappointed in the Obama administration policies [in this regard].”
Religious teachings in political platforms isn’t a new phenomenon in the U.S. Voters usually look for candidates with similar external religious beliefs. “Concrete issues” like finances and economic issues, take the back seat to “soft” issues, like one’s lifestyle and personal values. This, unfortunately, sidetracks from income inequality, social security and funding for schools.
Khalid Blankinship, the chair of the religion department, said American nationalism is disguised in the form of “overzealous evangelicalism.”
He told me to think back to the Prohibition Era of the 1920s when beverages of more than 2.75 percent alcohol concentration were banned.
“The ban misrepresented the country’s general intake,” he said. “It only preserved personal values of a small fraction, while exacerbating criminal activity.”
Clearly, the ban proved to be impractical and the law was reversed in 1926. In this case, policy outweighed a particular religious view. The system sustains an illusion of choice and is not a democracy, which fosters free thought through political fluidity and not domination of one set of ideologies over the majority.
Blankinship is confident that, although there will be some people voting based on external religious stances of the candidates, most people will vote based on policies that will affect their lives and non-imperialist policies.
I urge voters to not judge a candidate by one’s party affiliation, but instead for the candidate whose policies best represent America.
Siri Chevva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.