She rose from obscurity in just six months, polling just around ten percentage points early this year, to become a sensational national star politician. In the run off election she trounced her opponent, a senior party pol, by a two to one margin.
She is thus potentially the second person of Indian ancestry in the US to become a state governor. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is the other one.
Interestingly, both Haley and Jindal won as Republicans.
The Democratic Party, despite having a majority of Indians – and other minorities in general – supporting it, and participating at local levels, has rarely given rise to major national political heroes. This despite the fact that quite a large number of high-profile administration postions have been given to Indians, at least in the last 10-15 years. What accounts for there being no liberal equivalents of Haley, Jindal et al?
By emphasizing the primacy of identity over ideas, and blind party loyalty over individual ambition, the Democrats have not offered top-level opportunity to Indians in the political field. Indians in the party are often back-of-the-line loyalists, behind blacks, Mexicans, other ethnic groups and white women. With identity and gender based Democratic Party politics it’s just a numbers game. The Republican Party, on the other hand, seems to care more about devout Conservatism regardless of who embraces it – a trend also being observed in the UK recently. Incidentally, there may be a clue here for Indian political ideologues and thinkers of the Saffron shade!
What does such idea versus identity politics imply for Americans?
It is difficult to avoid the thought that an Indian-origin President of the United States, if that ever happens, is more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat.
Something to think about, all you young Indians in the USA!