Uploaded on March 22, 2024

The two-party system is not good for the American democracy and, by extension, for the world. Smaller parties and their candidates must be promoted by the electorate, observes DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM

Famous Egyptian-American satirist Bassem Youssef was recently in New Delhi to attend the India Today Conclave 2024. He was asked a hypothetical question by the moderator: if you are moderating a presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump this year, what would you say by way of an introduction. Bassem said he would say “please welcome a mad man and a genocide man.” 

In an interview with salon, an American news and opinion website, Bassem slammed President Biden for allowing genocide in Gaza to happen on his watch. He expressed his disdain for Biden by calling his “Joe Geriatric Genocide Biden” and said he’s no longer “Vote Blue no matter who”.

The India Today Conclave compere asked Bassem: “You have got an election coming up where you decided to be much more against the current president and the guy who is up against him. How is that working out for you?” Bassem, who is famously known as “John Stewart of the Middle East” explained: “If I’m against Biden, it doesn’t mean I’m with Trump. It is sad that a democracy like America can only produce two people that should be in a nursing home.” Bassem went on to elaborate his argument: “How many oil companies you had in the past, and how many you have now? They used to have about 53 armed companies in the past. Now they are consolidated in five. This kind of monopoly or consolidating power in a very few hands is like consolidating power in only two parties. These [Biden and Trump] are not the best candidates. These are the candidates promoted by those two parties [the Democratic Party and the Republican Party]. Consolidating power in the hand of a few is very dangerous. It’s dangerous for economy. It’s dangerous for politics. And it’s dangerous for freedom of expression. The United States deserves much better than this.”

In his talk and later question-answer session, Bassem didn’t give the Indian audience a single dull moment. He severely criticised Israel for committing genocide in Gaza. He also spoke against the Western governments and the media for allowing it to happen. 

Bassem Youssef, whose exchange with Piers Morgan about Gaza had gone viral, said our instinct to kill other humans remain the same; however, we have become more creative in coming up with an excuse to do it. They create propaganda to dehumanize a race or an ethnicity and thus it becomes easier to carry out massacres and destruction. He cited several instances in which African-American people were lynched or a whole area populated by them was destroyed following an accusation that a white woman was assaulted by an African-American man. Bassem said the same could be seen in the case of the October 7th where it was widely propagated that babies were killed and women raped. He said even after the claims were debunked by Israeli media, not a single Western media apologised for publishing such a dangerous lie.

Let’s come back to the US presidential election of 2024. The Economist (March 9th–15th 2024) notes that “many Americans find both main parties a bit weird”. It will be wonderful if this duopoly is broken. This time around the third parties’ candidates include Jill Stein, Cornel West and Robert Kennedy junior.

The British magazine describes Jill Stein as an environmentalist whose singular contribution to America may have been to ease Mr Trump’s victory in 2016 and his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

Cornel West is a philosopher, scholar of African-American studies and political activist. According to the Economist, Mr West thinks there is not much difference between Mr Biden and Mr Trump. The Guardian, on 5 Oct. 2023, reported Mr West as saying that he’s not seeking to steal Joe Biden votes, but instead trying to woo alienated, hardened non-voters. Mr West said “… I happen to be focusing on the 40% that don’t vote at all, and I happen to be pulling from the 62% of folk who do vote but who would never vote for the two parties. So if there is some taking from both parties, it’s going to be very, very small.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is another candidate that is not part of any of the two parties. Jonathan J. Cooper of the Associated Press writes: “The lack of excitement many Americans feel about a presidential rematch has heightened interest in alternatives to the major-party candidates, none more so than Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose famous name has helped him build buzz for his independent bid.” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a member of perhaps America’s most famous political family. President John F. Kennedy was his uncle, while his father, Robert Kennedy, served as attorney general and senator before seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president. Both the father and the uncle were assassinated. The Economist writes that in polls that include third parties Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gets 12% of the vote. “That suggests he ought to get enough signatures to put him on the ballot in most states. And if those polls translated into vote share in November, it would be by far the highest third-party score since Ross Perot in 1992.” Robert Kennedy Jr. should put his best foot forward. He also needs to review his stance on vaccines and Israel’s war on Gaza.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. belongs to a family that has made its mark on the American as well as world politics. I agree with Tom Stevenson when he writes in the Guardian newspaper that for more than a decade people have been saying that the era of US dominance is coming to an end, but in reality there are still no other global players to rival it. Therefore, if Americans elects a president who is equipped with political skill as well as morality it will bode well for not just the United States but the world at large.

As far as foreign policy is concerned America has made terrible mistakes in the past and is doing one right now by allowing genocide to happen in Gaza. However, it can become a force for good especially when a moral leader is at the helm. Therefore, Americans, who are already disgruntled with the duopoly, should rise to the occasion and elect a person like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Cornel West who could help make the world a better place to live in. With a President who embodies political skill as well as personal virtue, America can play a crucial role in strengthening human rights, civil liberties and peace in the world.


Go Back