Monday, September 01, 2008

US Presidential Elections

A view from India


First the question: does it matter much whether America elects a Republican or a Democrat as its President?

May be not to the rest of the world, but to American citizens it does.

After all, there are worries related to whether taxes shall go up or be cut—and for which segments of the population; whether health care systems will see greater privatization or greater and more equitable state sponsorship; whether more young people can or cannot afford a college education; whether prices of food and fuel—already the lowest worldwide– shall likewise go up or down; whether corporate profits stand to dwindle or multiply, at home and abroad; whether jobs will continue to be outsourced or retained within the U.S of A; and whether or not more warfare will be in the offing to clean up the world for democracy and concomitant virtues.

Speaking of virtues, the other important consideration must be whether more “pro-life” or “pro-choice” judges will come to adorn the Supreme Court.

Always a wonder, though, that “pro-life” America should worry so little about hundreds of thousands of little babies who through the years have had to die before their time in consequence of its righteous crusades in, for example, Iraq and Afghanistan. Increasingly now also in the friendly land of Pakistan. A mystery that no doubt some innovative twist of evangelical ingenuity can resolve.

Additionally, in the context of an America post the September, 2001 trauma (avoiding with some satisfaction the ritualized nomenclature “9/11″) whether state policy will tilt more towards greater security clampdown on citizen’s “inalienable rights” or whether America’s global pursuit of “democracy” will entail further curtailment of democratic rights at home.

And whether the new President prefers to cut emissions and absorb within indigenous precincts toxic materials, or continue to ship them to regions of the world that after all are too distant and too dark to matter.


I said at the outset that these elections may not matter to the world outside America, for the simple reason that it is no longer sensible to count India as being “outside America.”

Indeed it now is the case that elections within India are no longer of great concern (especially after the Left has been excised) to India’s corporate classes, or indeed, to any classes at all. It hardly matters whether these are won by the Congress or the Bhartiya Janata Party—the two “mainstream nationalist” parties—singly or in coalition (the Left excluded), since both now subscribe to a governing hypothesis that comprises a mutually- agreed ideological confluence.

That confluence includes the pursuit of strategic military dominance, the transfer of wealth from public to private interests—both national and foreign–, a generic suspicion of Muslims, a brazen disregard of right-wing Hindu vigilantism of the most violent kind, a statist indulgence of such vigilantism as constituting, after all, not “terroristic” but “nationalistic” impulses, despite some recent proven instances of right-wing Hindu terrorist activity (Nanded, Tinkasi, Kanpur etc.,), a close militarist and technological embrace with the Zionists, superceding India’s traditional links with the Eastern and Middle-Eastern cultures and regions, and a readiness to facilitate American strategic interests to penetrate the Asian and Far-Eastern dominions through strategic defence arrangements, joint military exercises, and inter-operable infrastructures.

In India, therefore, the Presidential election in America is viewed with great trepidation. And chiefly by our corporate ruling class and their influential consumerist support base among upwardly- mobile Indians who define their “nationalism” entirely in militarist, racial, and “cultural-nationalist” terms, in stark contrast to other segments of the intelligentsia who remain boorishly wedded to an anti-colonial and anti-imperialist construct of nationalism. The latter construct entailing archaic ideas about “seculalrism” and “equity” within the self-reliant sovereignty of the nation-state. As well as a commitment to universal disarmament and peaceful co-existence.

Something of that trepidation has been coming across on India’s corporate TV channels, some directly now subsidiaries of American corporate media conglomerates.

Only last night there was this anchor opening her “face the nation” routine by first tendentiously announcing the name “Barrack Hussain Obama” to the two “experts” on the show that asked the question whether, after all, this gentleman would make an adequate “twenty- first- century President.”

To her visible dismay, the ongoing poll on the ticker-tape suggested that some 62% thought he would. How wrong-headed can you get!

Also, none of her pointed prodding would elicit any of the following:

–that maybe even now the Hussain bit, of which “Indonesian past” Barrack spoke not at all, complained the anchor, would put paid to Obama’s chances;

–that maybe, after all, the colour of his skin and his so ‘differentness’ from a “proper” American persona would yet halt his illicit ambition;

–or that, may be, madam Palin’s admirable family values and gun-loving patriotism would, in tandem, rob the Democrats of votaries of Hillary Clinton.

In fairness to her two “experts,” neither of them seemed to think such fears were of substance, as they sought to dwell upon the great changing moment in America. Leaving the good anchor in wonderment as to “which side they were on.”

Continued . . .

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