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26 Jun, 2009 06:48

“Americans want to throw off that ideological straitjacket”

The pillars of American democracy are about to fall, as more and more voters turn to independent parties in America, as many voters say they cannot tell the two dominant parties apart anymore.

The old American political order, with Democrats and Republicans fighting for the spotlight and the public’s affection, may no longer be working.

Sabrina Rivera, a political activist, is among the young American generation that has not been won over by either of the parties.

“They sleep in the same bed. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats or whoever, for me, they all have the same agenda. We’re just fed up. If you really think about it, we’re fed up. We just want something different. And maybe if we vote independent, we can get our voice heard,” she said.

John Avlon, author of “Independent Nation. How centrists can change American politics,” says this comes as no surprise. According to him, “demographics is destiny”, and the flourishing independents largely consist of the younger generation.

“They just want to throw off that ideological straitjacket. Independent voters are not ideological problem-solvers, and they want the freedom to make up their mind about who the best candidate is, or what the best policy is, not to have it prescribed from the top down – where you really end up surrendering your common sense, as well as your courage,” he said.

According to a recent study, the number of independent voters in the US has skyrocketed in the last months after America chose its current President. John Avlon says independents hold the balance of power in the era of Barack Obama.

“Independent voters are now the largest and fastest growing segment of the American electorate. And that’s really a shake-up. The reality is there is a huge shift going on,” he believes.

Even though the lines of Democrats are thinning too, it’s no time for Republicans to become complacent. Some observers are saying many of the new independents are the ones who used to associate themselves with the GOP. One of them is political analyst David Epstein.

“The number of independents has grown basically at the expense of Republicans,” he says.

Moreover, this is just the beginning – what the Republicans have ahead of them is a long climb into respectability.

“Right now, if they were a name brand, they’d be going out of business. If this were Coke or Pepsi, this is Pepsi losing all their drinkers. They have to do something to get their audience back,” he said.

The dissatisfaction with what the parties have come to represent continues to grow. While the US traditionally has two main political parties, now is the time when bipartisanship is being moved into the shadows.

The current trend suggests the American people don’t care nowadays about the colour red or blue. What they care about is solutions.