By Nagendra Rao
There is a tale arising out of Mahabharata’s many versions.
Both Yudhistra and Duryodhana go around the world searching for the perfect unblemished man. Duryodhana could not find one person who is perfectly good, and Yudhistra could not find one who is totally bad. This tale, authentic or not, is emblematic of the situation today. We have two American presidential candidates who are among the most flawed and unprepossessing in American electoral history, for one reason or another.
Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have their good points and weak points.
President Trump has egregiously mismanaged the Covid crisis. With his populist blue collar, science ignorant and science contempt, he has shown himself and the White House to be superspreaders of the disease. Trump has also stacked the Supreme Court with uber right wing, Christian/Catholic judges who (despite much denying) could be on a self-fooling mission to force their illiberal, parochial, Christian views on everyone. Trump has also been egregiously anti-environmental protection and rejects climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence.
Yet, Trump has also stood up to the Xi Jinping’s aggressive hegemonic China in no uncertain way. This has been long overdue. China over the last 20+ years has brazenly stolen the US blind on intellectual property worth hundreds of billions of dollars in numerous scientific and technological fields. Trump has also bluntly and correctly called out the great threat from global Islamic terrorism. In particular, he has explicitly called out the perfidy and institutionalized state Islamic terrorism of Pakistan.
As Indian emigres to America with dual socio-cultural-emotional identification, we should take particular note of the importance of Trump’s principled and firm stand on militant, genocidal, global Islam flowing out of the Arab Middle East and Pakistan. President Barack Hussein Obama with his closet Islamic sympathies (he grew up in Muslim Indonesia) never called out Islamic terrorism. Instead he lectured Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘protect your minorities’ (read Muslims — and Christians) despite Indian laws and constitution being conspicuously stacked in their favor thanks to Gandhian-Nehruvianism for 65+ years.
Considering Joe Biden, it is more his explicit promises of what he will do to which we should look. He has never been in a position of real national executive authority to do anything. He promises to fix the healthcare system, focus on a more centrist Supreme Court rather than unacceptably right wing, anti-minority, and pro-rich, which is the Trump focus. Biden also promises to be more professional and merit oriented (with less sleaze) than Trump in his cabinet and executive appointments.
The flip side is, Biden definitely looks and behaves like an old man lacking energy and verve. He will be the oldest American President by far, if elected. He will be 82 when he finishes his first term. Biden also is completely sold out to the anti-law and order, rabidly socialist, left wing of the Democratic Party. Even more so than Hillary Clinton. From an Indian emigre’s standpoint Biden has gone out of his way to pander to extreme left wing, religiously exclusivist Islam by needlessly lecturing PM Modi on how he should run India. So too his pick for Vice President Kamala Harris, who is of Indian origin. She tried to get her hands on Silicon Valley Indian money by peddling her so-called TamBram roots and origin. Kamala has miserably fallen flat on her pseudo TamBram (yet Baptist Christian convert) face. The Indian American community, the best educated, and wealthiest by far émigré community to the US, is quite secular yet deeply conservative. It is just not buying Kamala, or for that matter her dear fellow traveler, uber left-wing, virulently anti-Hindu, Malayali / Tamilian Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle.
Neither Trump nor Biden can be considered a sterling intellect, head or shoulders above the herd in probity, or showing a record of landmark accomplishments. Both lack refinement and breeding though Trump was born a multi-millionaire and Biden was born poor and the first in his family to go to college. Trump has been documented by fact checkers during his last four years as POTUS to have uttered the most untruths and half-truths of any politician in American history. Several thousand of them, as a matter of fact, some of them blatant.
Trump’s public observation that he could grab women’s p*****s anytime, anywhere ‘for women allow that if you are rich, powerful and famous you know’ must surely rank amongst the most offensive, tasteless, male chauvinist public observations of all time, by anyone, anywhere.
Biden was in the US Senate for decades including as Chairman of the hallowed Senate Judiciary Committee. He is notorious for putting his foot in his mouth many times. During a White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Biden of Irish Catholic origin, mourned the death of the Irish Prime Minister’s mother, even though she was very much alive. Joe Biden also said at the health care bill signing ceremony barely off the microphone, “this is a big f*****g deal”. This is the ultimate blue collar acknowledgement of a job well done, not what you would expect at an august public ceremony for President Obama, the leader of the free world.
In summary, neither presidential candidate shows the dignity, gravitas or statesmanlike qualities expected of the president of the most powerful democratic country on earth.
Yet, at a time of grave public crisis due to the Covid pandemic, America is confronted with the saddening task of choosing the best of two very bad choices for President. The entire world needs to be concerned as well, for the incoming American President’s choices will gravely impact the rest of the world. Whether we like it or not America is today the most powerful country in the world, though the latest IMF results this week seem to show that China is already the world’s mightiest economy in purchasing power parity terms. America will gradually and inexorably decline in influence and power as China steadily accumulates it. The global dynamic will not change for another 25 years or so, though America will grow steadily weaker in economic and military strength. Look at the 5th rate power, hugely impoverished Great Britain today (without India the Crown Jewel of the Empire from which to silently and vampirishly suck economic resources and wealth).
Trump is likely to do more to shore up America’s position. His Make America Great Again has a sonorousness and emotive appeal to it, even if it really has strong self-aggrandizement as its base. Biden is just too weak and lacks energy. Besides, Biden’s recent utterance of Inshallah! in the last presidential debate was deeply upsetting to hundreds of thousands of Hindu Indian emigres. It was a deliberately fabricated act of abject pandering for Islamic votes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, California, Illinois and elsewhere. Deeply Catholic Joe Biden has never said Jai Sri Ram, or Om Namah Shivaya.
So, who should one pick to be the next POTUS?
From the standpoint of the future prosperity of America here and into the future, inclusive socio-cultural harmony and equity for all Americans, conservative and liberal, rich or poor, perhaps Joe Biden warts and all should be president. But the edge is really tiny.
From the parochial standpoint as an India émigré with understandable first generation dual emotional loyalty perhaps one should vote Donald Trump. Trump has evinced unapologetic strong pro India, pro Modi, unapologetic anti-terrorist, genocidal Islam sentiments. This whether by nation state Pakistan or ‘non state actors’ as Imran Khan likes to put it. The trouble with Trump is that he is not reliable. He is willful as the wind, and he ever looks out for Number 1. If it looks expedient, Trump will drop India as a lead balloon, as he has with so many others of his vaunted positions. Trump has shown this time after time.
Joe Biden is steady, predictable, left wing, anti-India, anti-Hindu, as all Democratic presidents and administrations have always been, c.f. Obama, Clinton, Carter. Biden won’t be virulently anti-India as Senator Sanders or Senator Warren would have been as President.
So, friends take your pick of the best of two bad choices.
Many are likely to just sit this one out. Others with a short-term pro-India emotional focus will pick Trump. If Trump wins, at least for the next four years a strong pro-India, anti-terrorist Islam, standing up to China will be assured. If the House stays Democratic and the Senate flips, this will serve to balance out Trump’s stacked right wing Supreme Court and excessive anti-scientific, anti-climate change, pro-business stance. It may not be so bad after all for America and for Spaceship Earth.
Vaya con Dios. Ye will still be my friends, irrespective of how ye vote, when the political dust dies down.
Retired Global Strategy Consultant for e-business, office of the Chairman IBMRead More