Republicans are bad and racist, and Democrats are nice and inclusive. To an outsider, especially one of my generation, this is what American politics boils down to. To us as Indians, with inclusivity and pluralism enshrined in our Constitution, and celebrated in our culture, this seemingly obvious dichotomy is of great importance. Our core values are those of tolerance and equality; any opposition to them is seen as a threat.
I remember a few months ago, in the beginning of lockdowns, a relative had sent a message on the family group, talking about not killing the economy to stop the virus. It began with the words, “I don’t want to say it, but I agree with Donald Trump on this.”
Agreeing with President Trump on something as basic as not crippling the economy to defeat a pandemic, requires a declaration of dislike. This stems from our perception of Republicans, and therefore, Donald Trump, as racists and bigots. Any point of agreement must be shown to be minimal, and no charitable opinions may be espoused.
Democrats, on the other hand, are seen as our ideological kin. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee just opened up a historic 10 point deficit with Mr. Trump. Being a Democrat beating a Republican in Texas (the most Republican state in the U.S) he seems likely to win the November 3rd election. A multiplicity of Indians supports this, both at home and in the U.S.; members of the Indian-American Diaspora break heavily for Biden in all available polls.
This isn’t good for India. On the contrary, given India’s current foreign policy woes, it desperately needs the U.S to stand by it in its disputes with Pakistan and China. Joe Biden will not do that. Biden, while running as a centre-left moderate, plans to be a “transitional figure”, and will give way to radical left ideologues.
His policy platform has gone from a traditional centrist Democrat’s platform, to an extremely progressive one, in the hope of appeasing the American far left. For India, this is problematic.
Radical leftists in the U.S view society through an intersectional lens, based on a hierarchy of victimhood. They believe that American, as well as global life, is built on a system of historical discrimination. Those whom history robbed of power and agency must now be unquestioningly obeyed, and those who robbed them must be stripped of the same.
When someone calls COVID-19 the Chinese Virus, and blames China for the virus, most Indians do not consider it controversial; in fact, we rather agree. On the American left, this is seen as a dog whistle to bigotry against Asian-Americans.
While Americans liberals decry Euro-centrism, but their own views are premised on it. They decide who is to be considered more or less victimized, by looking at their success in American life. They consider America an oppressive bad faith actor in world politics.
America has historically been somewhat hostile to Muslims, especially since 9/11, so they get a top spot in the intersectional hierarchy. The Vietnam War was waged against the expansion of Chinese communism; the Chinese get a pass as well.
When Pakistan funds terrorism, and invades Kashmir, the radicals don’t call it out, because to them, malicious acts undertaken by an Islamic theocracy are a direct result of historical oppression of Muslims in, and by the Western world.
When Pramila Jayapal, a naturalized American citizen and sitting Congresswoman, calls Indian action in Jammu and Kashmir a ‘human rights violation’, while neglecting to mention the myriad cruelties inflicted on Kashmiri Hindus by Pakistani terror infiltrates, she does so on basis of that misguided belief.
The view that America has a negative impact on geopolitics leads to the U.S withdrawing its support of India. Joe Biden will legitimize these views, and give them a platform to change not just the U.S, but the global polity as well.
None of this is to argue that Donald Trump is a man unfairly maligned or misunderstood. A poor man’s King Lear, rampaging on Twitter to project strength while displaying historic impotence at maintaining even a semblance of law and order, what he lacks in virtue and intelligence he more than makes up for in his nonchalant obliviousness to said lack.
But those are personal problems with Donald Trump, not problems with the global political vision he represents.
If we seek to maintain the world order of liberal democracies, we must remain steadfast and resolute in our opposition to autocracies like China. We must hold the line.
Biden will not hold that line.