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The Indian voter is the reason we donít have political debates (Interesting comparison)
FirstPost India ^ | October 21, 2012 | Aakar Patel

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 America’s voters have an intellectual engagement with their country’s 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 candidate’s 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 candidate’s tribal identity is more important than what he says or promises to do or, in Obama’s 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 don’t have debates deciding elections, is in the Indian voter.


TOPICS: Politics; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: debate; debates; obama; romney
Mr. Obama and the Democrats are trying, Aakar.
1 posted on 10/20/2012 9:30:13 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“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 candidate’s tribal identity is more important than what he says or promises to do or, in Obama’s case, what he has already done. In this sense, they vote like Indians do. “
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Thanks for posting this article, I enjoyed it.


2 posted on 10/20/2012 9:47:15 PM PDT by Irenic (The pencil sharpener and Elmer's glue is put away-- we've lost the red wheel barrow)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Good find. Thanks for posting.


3 posted on 10/20/2012 9:51:12 PM PDT by expat1000
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Thanks for the article!


4 posted on 10/20/2012 9:52:49 PM PDT by TEXOKIE (Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. EdmondBurke)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Great article/perspective ... will send to friend who travels to India on business and loves the people. But ...

... So do the Mormons, a small religious community of Christians, for fellow Mormon Romney.

... Guess they don't know Harry Reid.

5 posted on 10/20/2012 10:03:59 PM PDT by HannibalHamlinJr
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To: HannibalHamlinJr

They also don’t know that Mormonism is not a part of Christianity, but it’s own religion, a polytheistic religion.


6 posted on 10/20/2012 10:10:12 PM PDT by ansel12 (Mitt Romney is a mixture of LBJ and Nixon, Obama is a mixture of LBJ and Jimmy Carter.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Good article, although I would agree that many people do vote on character, I will state that both parties are trying to become more like India, as they both tend to see blocks of voters and try to get them into their tent to vote in monolithic blocks. It is the independence of the American individual that resists it.

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.

7 posted on 10/20/2012 10:10:18 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Thanks for an excellent read!


8 posted on 10/20/2012 10:13:25 PM PDT by Ravi
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To: Vince Ferrer

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.


9 posted on 10/20/2012 10:17:31 PM PDT by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

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.


10 posted on 10/20/2012 10:45:01 PM PDT by zeestephen
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Thanks for the posting. It was interesting to read about the differences in political selection processes.


11 posted on 10/20/2012 11:27:44 PM PDT by octex
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To: HannibalHamlinJr

Or the Salt Lake Tribune


12 posted on 10/21/2012 3:32:00 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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