Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bobby J and Indian-Americans? I'll Order a Venti-sized Cup of "I Don't Care"

I was at dinner last night with three good friends from the Guard.  Among the many, many subjects were covered was whether Bobby Jindal might run for President in 2016.

We talked about it for a minute or two, and then one member of our group (born in Texas to parents originally from the Indian portion of Punjab) mentioned how Indian-Americans are split on the issue of whether to support Jindal.  Some are proud to see a person of Indian heritage in such a prominent position, while others consider him a 'sell-out' because of issues about his name (as a young kid, he found that people around him could more easily pronounce the name of the youngest Brady bunch character than they could 'Piyush')* and his religion (he is Catholic, whereas another prominent Indian pol, Tulsi Gabbard, is Hindu).

Another time I heard that Jindal candidacy question come up recently was in a class discussion.  Sure enough, eyes turned to one of the Indian-American students in the class, who opined that "Jindal can't win because there aren't enough Indian-Americans in the electorate to support him."

Wh-wh-whuh?  Did someone need to break out demographic statistics to demonstrate all of President Obama's political support bases?  Or, much more importantly, did someone need to compare population statistics about Louisiana, in which Jindal won a statewide contest, to the entire nation?  I won't even bother to look this up, because it's not worth the time, but I can state with high confidence that the coalition that carried Jindal to Baton Rouge did not critically depend on people whose forebears came from the Indian subcontinent.

As Jindal continues to play a more prominent national role in GOP politics, these sorts of issues will continue to arise.  Inevitably, people will "ask the Indian-American in the room" about what he or she thinks, in much the same way they might've innocently asked them something like "Aren't you so thrilled/excited/proud?" after Slumdog Millionaire won the Best Picture statue at the Oscars (No one asked me, btw, but I'd like to say I loved every minute of 'Slumdog' and yes, I was proud).

Guess what?

It doesn't matter nearly as much as people seem to think.  Indian-Americans are increasingly involved in political fundraising, they're getting more directly involved (look at Gabbard, or Nikki Haley, or the TARP guy who might go run statewide in CA now), but whether Bobby Jindal can win a Presidential contest depends on the entire nation, of which Indian-Americans are just a tiny, tiny part, demographically speaking.

The Electoral College doesn't care about the skin color of a voter, so I would posit that my opinion about Jindal is just as important as Shahil's opinion, or Santosh's opinion, or Vikram's opinion.

And for what it's worth, it wouldn't hurt the GOP to put an intellectual up as its standard bearer.  There is an anti-intellectual streak running through the party that we don't need.  It also doesn't hurt that he entered office at a time when Louisiana was in many ways a basket case, and has since turned many of those problems around.

* Props to Kad Barma for pointing out an error here...this should have referred to Bobby as the 'youngest Brady boy'

4 comments:

Progressive Veterans said...

Be careful, if your aim is to hold Bobby Jindal up as 'intellectual.' Yes. He is one of the few with R's next to their names willing to stand up; a recent trend on Jindal's part, I might add; to the radical orthodoxy successfully overlayed on today's Republican Party.

Mustering the capacity to question the soundness of radical rightwing parrot points, issued by such haughty intellects as Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman, would require enough wit to procure a GED.

A scan of Jindal's pedigree would bring a solid nod by just about anyone that doesn't hate on science and higher ed. He is schooled with the most elite. Which begs the question, Why does he shill for the far right?

Being principled is a quality that transcends race, creed & color. The Founders knew that. Our Constitution accounts for it.

-Jack

kad barma said...

I always figured Cindy was the youngest...

The New Englander said...

Good catch -- just updated the entry w/a note at the bottom... it should've called 'Bobby' the youngest Brady boy...

C R Krieger said...

At some level Gov Jindal's Catholic faith should be of no interest.  There have been Catholics in India since the time of St Thomas.  Maybe as early as, or earlier than Christianity in the British Isles.

Regarding Jack's comments, how can Gov Jindal be anything else?  He is where he needs to be?

Going with the linked article, I think most of our problems are more engineering than science (using the STEM paradigm).  Surely a party that still believes Kaynes is science should be careful who it points fingers at.

The article says "When Jindal stepped into Republican politics in Louisiana, he had a choice to make."  I think his choice was to change his state and to get agreement with the legislature to do that.

So the Governor signed a bill.  What did he get for that signature?  Politics is the art of the possible.  The Governor seems to be working with a legislature to accomplish a lot of things.  He may even have learned how to work with a legislature.  Would others had learned.

As for the idea that Republicans are anti-intellectual, I think that Republicans are strong supporters of higher education, but they do not believe higher education is restricted to the Ivy League.  And, I don't hold it against Bobby Jindal that he is a Brown Graduate.

Regards  —  Cliff