Indian Americans should have reason to celebrate the unexpected debut of a compatriot in American electoral politics.
By Neera Kuckreja Sohoni*
Indian Americans should have reason to celebrate the unexpected debut of a compatriot in American electoral politics. A product of immigrant Indian parents and alumnus of prestigious American universities, which Indian kids would give their all to be admitted into, combined with his early dazzling entrepreneurial success in making millions from his business ideas and ventures, Vivek Ramaswamy should have stirred the Indian immigrant community to emerge from their ideological silos to rave over him.
Vivek’s announcement that he is a contender for the US presidency ordinarily would be hailed by Indians as historic. His political affiliation unfortunately makes him a “No-No” for the ethnic Indian media which, like mainstream media, is overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning.
A young black newcomer like Obama obsessing over “Dreams-from-My-Father” managed to mesmerize us Indians into supporting him not once but twice to occupy the White House. But Vivek – even though “one of our own” – is shown the cold shoulder essentially because his political affiliation makes him toxic.
READ: We need an outsider in the White House: Vivek Ramaswamy (July 11, 2023)
The mainstream American media likewise has granted him no more than a passing glance. By the few who have stooped to notice him, his ‘otherness’ is emphasized and their condescension towards his candidacy is made crystal clear as seen in the following quote:
“The son of immigrants from India, he would be the first nonwhite Republican presidential nominee and the first Hindu president. Research suggests that some Republican voters are attracted to nonwhite candidates because they like having conservative beliefs validated by someone who isn’t white. Others may appreciate having a nonwhite candidate who can preempt attacks that the GOP is racist”.
Notice the dog whistles about his being the first Hindu and the implied suggestion that he helps neutralize the Republican Party image from being perceived as purely white. That claim is untrue because both in prior and forthcoming primaries, Republican Party has seen black candidates vying for their party’s presidential nomination.
Vivek’s candidacy is noticeable for many reasons. At 38 years of age, he not only becomes as he claims, “the first millennial ever to run for U.S. president as a Republican” in striking contrast to the age-challenged decrepit frontrunners of both parties, but also the first who is unafraid to stand with as well as against prevailing party principles and to seek to rise above inherited political convictions and divides.
In an age when media has become not only the Message but also the Determinant of electoral success, Vivek’s communication skills, self-confidence and clarity when messaging are proving to be his assets. His inexperience is strictly in terms of lacking a political presence which deficiency is more than made up by his coming across as one who is able to present well-thought-out and researched views, at least on the domestic front. His foreign policy needs a better grasp to help him avoid major political storms as he recently caused by proposing an early deadline for ending US aid to Israel.
His overall message that America has a distinct positive legacy and identity both of which need to intertwine with our individual and collective identity is spot on. He is against dehumanizing America and Americans, which could or should be music to the ears of once desperate and now comfortably ensconced in the American way of life Indian immigrants.
It has become fashionable for the upcoming laid-back generations to resent and mock America, while forgetting that we can resent it openly only because its institutions permit us to do so freely. Vivek is wedded to that pivotal democratic principle of free speech. Indeed, he made his intellectual debut well before his public and political debut when he daringly published his politically incorrect but well-argued work which he titled Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.
Openly challenging the bastardization of American capitalism and its surrender to Woke-ism, he believes that Woke-ism though supposedly enlightened and egalitarian is really destructive of merit-based and profit-oriented capitalism, which is slowly burying itself in the quicksand of equity, diversity, and inclusion or DEI.
DEI-ism propagates organizational frameworks that in theory are committed to promoting fair treatment and full participation of all people, especially those historically underrepresented, exploited, enslaved, or subject to discrimination. In this framework, merit and profit become inconsequential and identity, disability, and equal opportunity and gains for all become the new corporate mantra. The message of Woke-ism is simplistic but clear — talent and success are innate in every individual. It is only their Whiteness and Wealth that leads to their being deemed meritorious and entitled.
Shortly after challenging the sacred cow of Woke-ism, Vivek took on the political and capitalist class to expose their deceptive portrayal of “stakeholder” politics and economics. While making rosy promises of a better, more diverse, environmentally friendly world, in reality, this ideology championed by America’s business and political leaders, Vivek contends, robs us of our money, our voice, and our identity. False notions of morality, justice, and self, he contends, prey on our innermost insecurities about who we really are. “They sell us cheap social causes and skin-deep identities to satisfy our hunger for a cause and our search for meaning, at a moment when we as Americans lack both”.
This is powerful messaging. It is also a direct challenge to political mandarins – both Democrat and Republican.
Going further, Vivek has thrown the gauntlet to the administrative class – the hydra-headed administrative cadre that treats every election and president as episodic and transient, with the reins of government firmly in the hands of the bureaucrats. This is the mass of unelected public servants constituting the fourth arm that runs the three arms of government. It is no longer we the people but the bureaus such as FBI and CDC and departments of defense, education, energy, and so on who rule.
Such concentration of power without accountability is what has made dismantling the administrative deep state a leading focus of Vivek’s presidential agenda. This permanent managerial class which makes elected leaders irrelevant – is what he seeks to uproot – including even those with close ties to Biden and Obama. Yet this is what is bound to become his nemesis.
No less than Senate Democrat leader Schumer had predicted that intelligence officials would “get back at” Trump for challenging their credibility. “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he is being really dumb to do this.”
Vivek would be wise to pay heed to Schumer’s warning.
(Neera Kuckreja Sohoni, a resident of California, is a published author. Her opinion and other articles have appeared in ethnic and mainstream media.)