Skip to comments.The Indian voter is the reason we donít have political debates (Interesting comparison)
Posted on 10/20/2012 9:30:03 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
It is with admiration and shame that we must watch the debates between Republican Romney and Democrat Obama.
Admiration, because they operate in a society where debate decides the mind of voters. This aspect became more remarkable when we saw that the election turned after the first exchange between Romney and Obama.
This means Americas voters have an intellectual engagement with their countrys politics. That they hold judgment on the candidate till they hear from him what his position is, on the things that concern them, and then weigh it against the position of his opponent. This is unthinkable in India, where voting is done on the basis of tribal identity. Here is where we must feel a little shame. Here Patels vote as Patels, Dalits as Dalits, Muslims as Muslims, and Lingayats as Lingayats.
All our parties are actually coalitions of castes, even our ideological parties. The BJP is the party of Lingayats and upper castes in Karnataka, where I live. The Janata Dal here is the party of peasant Vokkaligas and Muslims. The majority in these communities votes for the corresponding parties. This is accepted and unremarked upon.
Policy, intellect, debate, principle all of that is reduced to identity. Certainly it is true that it is such tribal identity that has kept India democratic, since there is little to separate political parties in terms of policy. In the absence of such voting by identity, as we observe elsewhere on the Indian subcontinent, democracy wilts. But one wonders, when witnessing the manner of the American voter, when the Indian voter will move on from this.
The idea that someone might be undecided about voting Republican or Democratic till they hear the candidates policy positions is an entirely civilised one. We must recognise this in the American voter.
It is true of course that there are communal voters in America as well. For instance the blacks, called African-Americans there, vote in tribal fashion for Obama. So do the Mormons, a small religious community of Christians, for fellow Mormon Romney. To these two groups, the candidates tribal identity is more important than what he says or promises to do or, in Obamas case, what he has already done. In this sense, they vote like Indians do.
But for the majority of Americans, especially white Americans, it is the policies and character of the candidates that is the clinching factor. Not what their community or religious belief is, and not what their bloodline is.
This difference betweeen America and India is not because of the difference in candidates, mind you.
We have some excellent speakers in India. Few leaders around the world have control over the details of policy as Manmohan Singh does. Few have his intellectual capacity to understand events and what they portend. It is inevitably rewarding to listen to him speak, or to read his answers when he is interviewed by the foreign, especially financial, press. But because he lacks charisma Indians think of him as meek and boring. Our preference is for either the charismatic speaker, like Narendra Modi, or the comic one like Lalu Yadav. Pure policy is not stimulating to us, and this is why leaders like Singh avoid engaging the public except when necessary. He avoids even the Indian media, which in my opinion is a wise decision.
The difference between America and India, the reason we dont have debates deciding elections, is in the Indian voter.
“It is true of course that there are communal voters in America as well. For instance the blacks, called African-Americans there, vote in tribal fashion for Obama. So do the Mormons, a small religious community of Christians, for fellow Mormon Romney. To these two groups, the candidates tribal identity is more important than what he says or promises to do or, in Obamas case, what he has already done. In this sense, they vote like Indians do. “
Thanks for posting this article, I enjoyed it.
Good find. Thanks for posting.
Thanks for the article!
... So do the Mormons, a small religious community of Christians, for fellow Mormon Romney.
... Guess they don't know Harry Reid.
They also don’t know that Mormonism is not a part of Christianity, but it’s own religion, a polytheistic religion.
The author also should have noted that Obama could not have gotten elected in 2008 only based on the black vote. He had to and did convince other groups of people, especially whites, to cross ethnic lines and vote for him.
Thanks for an excellent read!
India, fortunately, is not locked down by a 2-party system as the US is. It has hundreds of political parties, literally, some of them comprising of individuals - and it is not unusual for them to win power, too.
Thanks for posting, Vet.
Most of the time an article like this will be completely superficial or concentrate pointlessly on the aesthetics of Indian culture.
Instead, I feel better informed and rewarded for my effort.
I believe the author makes one error, though.
I haven’t seen polls on Romney and Mormons, but I doubt Mormons vote with any where near the monolithic political mindset that Blacks do.
Utah has elected several Democrats to high office in recent years, and Bob Bennett and Jon Huntsman were both on the left wing of the Republican Party.
Thanks for the posting. It was interesting to read about the differences in political selection processes.
Or the Salt Lake Tribune
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.