bhamy oped

File photo of President Donald Trump shaking hands with former President Barack Obama and former Vice-President Joe Biden after being sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

For once, President Trump spoke the truth during the recent Republican National Convention. He roared that this election is the most important one deciding which direction the country will take. According to the Washington Post as of July 9, he has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office – a tsunami of untruths.

While we hear such warnings during each election, this time the wolf has finally come to town. I am sure that Indian Americans, comprising the most educated and most affluent ethnic group, are fully aware of this warning. Still, it is a mystery that both mainline and ethnic papers are writing that more than 30% Indian Americans (during the 2016 general election, close to 80% voted Democratic) are likely to support Trump. 

It is my prediction that these highly educated and professional Indian Americans will change their mind as they digest the shocking and tragic developments that have taken place under the Trump Era. Desis can indeed make a difference, first by voting and second by registering their opposition to what Trump stands for. No papers write about how even the young children who are neither left nor right are urging their parents and relatives to vote against Trump. This is based on my informal survey. It is true that children cannot vote, but it shows how they feel about Trump. 

In the next election more than 1.5 million Indian Americans are likely to vote. In three battleground states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – there are 320,000 Indian Americans. Trump’s winning margin in these three states was 43,000, 10,700 and 21,000, which is just 23% of total potential votes by Indian Americans.

Three factors that are often mentioned as the reason for Indian Americans supporting Trump are: tax cuts by Trump which have reduced the income tax for the rich; the opposition by a few Democratic congresspersons like Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, etc., against India’s Constitution Amendment Act; and perceived strong friendship between Trump and India’s Prime Minister Modi. However, when these factors are stacked against the compelling reasons for voting out Trump, any rational thinking Indian Americans will be swayed.

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to preserve democracy and the noble principles the U.S. stands for. Just like Brutus in Shakespeare’s drama is an honorable person, Trump is also an honorable person. It is just that he is incapable of comprehending complex issues, or not interested in getting the facts, or thinks he is already an expert on most subjects (recall his statement that he does not need any advice on foreign relations). Of course, die hard Trump supporters argue that his opposition just does not understand him.

Trump “seeing many sides” and “good people on both sides” after the violent confrontation between white supremacists and other protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia; the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis; the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, etc., has clearly shown the ugly side of racism during the Trump Era and what may follow if he gets reelected.

Even a high school student studying the statistics of the U.S. rate of infection and death by the Covid-19 pandemic versus other countries can comprehend how Trump has singularly failed to control the menace. First, he claimed it was a hoax. Later he announced that it would disappear. He has failed to heed to the advice of his scientific advisors. The U.S. population is 4.5% of the world population but Covid-19 related deaths is 22% and number of infected is 24%. 

It is a cruel joke to claim that the U.S. has achieved energy independence. Not only has the U.S. shale revolution come to an end with oil production falling significantly after the collapse in world oil demand, there is no chance of it recovering in the near future.

Judges on the Supreme Court are expected to vote strictly according to the Constitution and laws. However, how a judge interprets them is influenced by their conservative, neutral or progressive views. Since Indian Americans are fully aware of how the Supreme Court judgment is of critical importance to the future of the U.S. and not the three factors discussed earlier, they may not like to give an opportunity to Trump to appoint some more conservative judges as he has done during his first term.

India’s civilizational message to the world is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family). Without any exception, Indian Americans believe in this uplifting noble principle. This is also the principle which has guided the U.S. all these years. Unfortunately, all the words and deeds as discussed above show how Trump has paid no heed to this principle. When Trump chants his mantra of “Make America Great Again,” his hidden agenda is to strive for “Make America White Again.”

When most scientists agree on the need to act urgently on climate change, Trump has done everything possible to dismantle all the strategic steps taken by previous governments and put the world and the U.S. on a path to future disaster. The recent hurricane Laura in the U.S. Gulf Coast, the unprecedented wildfires in California, and many such events throughout the world are a few of the warnings by nature. Not only does Trump not believe in global warming, he also criticizes climate scientists as “prophets of doom.”

History will consider withdrawing from the Paris accord as the most dangerous decision made by Trump if it is not undone by voting him out. Just for this life and death issue alone, Indian Americans should take active part in this election and work for the defeat of Trump irrespective of whatever problems they may have with Biden’s position on Kashmir.

Biden has not hesitated to change his position when he is properly briefed and learns about new facts. Most likely he will change his position on Kashmir also. One should recall that Biden as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee played a key role in the U.S.-India nuclear deal. It was during the Obama era that the U.S. supported India’s bid for a Security Council seat in the UN. Also, a country like India with 1.4 billion people and the fastest growing economy need not worry about what a few Democrats think about Kashmir, especially when they are driven by ideology rather than by ground realities. 

In conclusion, while voting, rational Indian Americans will be swayed by their moral compass (Trump stands no chance against Biden) and make history to ensure that the U.S. will remain a strong democratic and vibrant economy to promote world peace. 

(The author is an energy expert and a consumer and environmental protection activist.)

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