Dussehra, the popular Hindu festival, occurs this year on Oct. 25, barely nine days before the most critical presidential election of the U.S. in modern times. Dussehra celebrates the Hindu god Rama's victory over the demon king Ravana and the triumph of good over evil. This oped urges all voters to vote so that we finally end the national nightmare of four years and save democracy.
Patriotism and Respect for Diversity and Inclusivity
On January 2017, Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction for his meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural and other significant public and private endeavors. Trump calls heroes like John McCain and other military people losers and suckers. Biden wants his administration to embrace and represent America’s diversity. Biden’s vision is respect for all humans irrespective of their race, religion, profession, gender or sexual orientation. Trump has made hateful statements and supported discriminatory policies against Muslims and Blacks while sympathizing with white supremacists. Trump is against minorities – today it is Muslims, tomorrow it may be Hindus or Jains or Buddhists or Sikhs. We need to keep America secular.
Biden has demonstrated bipartisan solutions to national and worldwide challenges. Trump hates Barack Obama and dumps everything that was initiated by him – the Paris Climate accord, Iran Nuclear deal, the DACA immigration policy and NAFTA. It must be clear that Hindu Indian Americans overwhelmingly support the Citizenship Amendment Act passed in December 2019 and abrogation of article 370 and 35a passed in August 2019 in India. Any past statements to the contrary by either Biden or Harris will hurt them significantly. Making a statement to allay the fears of Hindus will be helpful. The Hindu community has reached an historic first having received responses from Biden to several questions posed by the Hindu American Political Action Committee regarding hate crimes, climate change, immigration, educational reform and religious persecution.
Trump and Associates
It would be easy to compare the stark differences between Biden and Trump with those that existed between Bhagwan Ram and the demon Ravan. Biden is truthful and trustworthy. Trump lies incessantly and cannot be trusted. Ravan is described as having 10 heads and 20 arms. His ten heads, as per mythology, represent his 10 characteristics: lust, anger, delusion, greed, pride, envy, ego, mind, intellect, and will. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated the initial seven negative characteristics and lacks in the last three positive characteristics. Trump is an impeached president by the U.S. Congress. One evil head can be associated with his two top enablers – Senator Mitch McConnell and AG Barr. The other eight heads represent his past associates who have been indicted and/or jailed for at least one crime – Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Nader. and George Papadopoulos. Biden has termed Trump’s apathy towards the 200,000+ deaths due to Covid-19 as criminal. If Indian Americans want our adopted country to stay great and civil, we cannot allow its democracy to be compromised by the likes of Trump.
Democratic Values versus Dictatorial Tendencies
Joe Biden wants to sustain cordial relationships with democracies around the world, foremost among them India. Trump cozies up with brutal dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Biden is civil and courteous. Trump is vindictive and vicious. Biden insults nobody. Trump insults anybody who dares to differ with him. Biden will be an undisputed ‘Uniter in Chief’. Trump has proved unequivocally as the ‘Divider in Chief’. Biden believes in tax laws that promote equitable distribution of wealth. Trump wants the wealthy to become wealthier, thus aggravating the existing wealth inequity.
Thousands of mostly mask-less supporters attended Trump campaign rallies in Minden, Nevada, on Sept. 12 and Henderson, Nevada, on Sept. 13 held in violation of state directives which cap at 50 the number of people attending public gatherings. Such behavior by the president and his always-Trump followers poses huge risk to public health and puts an additional strain on already astronomical costs of handling Covid-19 patients.
Pandemic Coronavirus, Admonition of Science
The number of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. has crossed 200,000 and cases have crossed 7 million. Indian American doctors constitute almost 20% of the number of doctors in America. They have been very visible during the fight against coronavirus in the hospitals and media in almost all states. Some of them gave up their lives in the line of duty.
Based on several metrics, it is abundantly clear that the U.S. leadership at the center terribly mismanaged the fight against this pandemic. Why? Because Trump does not believe in science. He called Covid-19 a Democrats’ hoax. He encourages no mask wearing and no lockdown even in the worst situations.
Trump has been encouraging early opening of the economy at the cost of human lives so that he can enhance his chances of reelection. Like a dictator, he scolds expert epidemiologists and doctors like Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield. Biden has unequivocally mentioned that he trusts vaccines and science and not Trump.
Just like the pandemic, the epidemic of gun violence is also a public health issue. Biden and Obama tried to pass legislation to pass common sense gun laws but failed by a couple of votes in the Senate. Trump has resisted doing anything to control gun violence even when there were mass peaceful protests by high school students in the wake of mass shootings in a Florida school and also in Las Vegas. Our country must wake up to the hard reality that even though we are 4% of the world population, we own 50% of the world’s guns and 93 people die on an average every day due to gun violence. Trump boasts about his membership with the NRA which is responsible for mass shootings and the deaths of innocent adults, teenagers and young children.
Hindus do scientific and rational thinking. Trump with his egomaniac attitude persists in incessant destruction of reason, evidence and science in the service of his personal whims, conspiratorial mindset and political requirements. Biden has termed him a climate arsonist. Biden believes in controlling climate change due to huge carbon footprints throughout the world. Hindus have always believed in science – after all, so many discoveries and innovations in science and mathematics have emerged from India. It is critical that we keep ecological balance and respect climate change that happens because of incessant pollution and emission of unwanted gases.
Biden and Trump are Polar Opposites
Biden has a public service contribution since the age of 28 for almost 50 years now. Trump wandered into public service in 2015, primarily because of his hate for Barack Obama. In the prime of his youth, Trump received five deferments using medical excuses. And in his inherited business, he squandered the wealth. He took advantage of every tax loophole to enrich himself and has not paid any taxes for 10 out of last 15 years. Biden has released 21 years of his tax returns. Biden is devoutly religious and full of empathy. Trump pays lip service to religion and uses the church and Bible for photo opportunity. Biden is a caring family man who has struggled with family tragedies and every time rose to the occasion for public service.
During the Obama-Biden administration, Obama had the unique distinction of visiting India twice, designated India as a major defense partner and improved immigration policies affecting Indians. Trump revoked India’s special trade partner status, cut visas for Indian immigration, levied tariffs on Indian imports, blamed India for being greedy for not withdrawing from the Paris accord, and ultimately visited India on the condition that Modi arranges the hugest possible rally to satisfy his mountain size ego.
Whether the issue is racial injustice, the climate crisis, inequality, worldwide peace or democracy’s future, Biden can certainly deliver and stop the ongoing divisive turmoil at home and dangerous confrontation abroad. It is his last shot at the top spot for the love of our nation. So, please help elect this marathon public servant – 49 years in service and still going strong. He has a conventional centrist outlook, empathetic style and courteous demeanor. A pandemic recovery plan, police reforms, leadership in climate control, curbs on social media abuses, and above all regaining civility and the soul of America are among his cherished goals. Biden and Harris are clearly on a path to think once again in terms of entire humanity rather than America versus the rest of the world.
In conclusion, a Biden-Harris administration will: (a) make U.S.-India ties as natural partners as the two largest democracies in the world; (b) work with India to promote global security including on issues related to terrorism and countering aggression from China; (c) will advocate for India to have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. As Lord Krishna says to Arjun in the Bhagwad Gita, “For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjun, for it comes as an open gate to heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your dharma and your honor.” So, I urge all Indian Americans to become warriors and make sure we all vote and facilitate victory of good over evil.
(The author of this article, a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar 2016-17, is Professor Emeritus of MIS, College of Management, Long Island University Post, Brookville, New York. The opinions expressed here are solely of the author’s.)