May 16, 2023
NEW DELHI – Could the United States also favour an Indian American for the top job in the 2024 polls? It is a million-dollar question. But it does not stop the American Indians from dreaming about it.
After all, the United Kingdom has chosen an Indian-origin Prime Minister in Rishi Sunak. As for the Indian Americans, it is a long road to occupying the White House. Over the years, they have become affluent and also ambitious. Their success is a unique coming-ofage story.
Today, the Indian American diaspora is 4 million plus, of which at least 2 million are voters. It is the second-largest immigrant group in the United States. Affluent Indian Americans also donate money to the two major parties.
The number of Indian Americans appointed to high-profile positions has multiplied in recent years. The most significant example was Kamala Harris, the U.S. Vice President.
No one would have imagined that Indian Americans would bid for the Oval Office a few years ago. Then Louisiana Governor Piyush Bobby Jindal in 2016 and Kamala Harris in 2020 joined the presidential race only to be disappointed. Their number is gradually growing in the U.S. Congress and the state assemblies.
The 2024 Presidential polls will be interesting for Indian Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris has been announced as the running mate of President Biden, who is seeking reelection.
At least two Indian-origin Americans intend to run for president in 2024. They are former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Hailey and millionaire entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
His parents are the first generation immigrants from Kerala. Ramaswamy focuses on “getting rid of ‘affirmative action” and allowing more highly skilled immigrants into the U.S. While they all represent “America first,” they know that the road to the White House is a long one.
The primary contenders would be President Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump. The latter will be the same age as Biden was when he was elected in 2020.
Will either of them have a chance to win in 2024? Harris, the first woman Vice President was at a knocking distance from the Oval Office. She had sought the Democratic Party nomination for the 2020 election before dropping out in the campaign’s initial stages.
Kamala agreed to run as Biden’s running mate in 2020 when everyone thought he wouldn’t seek a second term. She also became the U.S.’s first ‘woman acting president’ for 55 minutes on 19 November 2021, when Biden underwent a colonoscopy. A sitting President has never been defeated historically. Kamala Harris, who is only 58, is Biden’s running mate again.
The two-time former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, daughter of Indian-origin immigrants, made history as the state’s first female governor. At 39, Nikki was the youngest governor in the U.S. in January 2011. Nikki was also the state’s first IndianAmerican governor.
She is projecting herself as a changemaker who can reinvigorate a party. Her biggest challenge comes from her former boss, Trump. He advised her to follow her heart when she informed him about her intention to contest. Nikki and Kamala have the advantage of name recognition, but Vivek is less well-known. The 37-yearold studied at Harvard and Yale, earned millions as a biotechnology entrepreneur, and founded an asset management firm.
It would be difficult for Vivek, with no political experience, to join the race for the White House. But Trump said some encouraging words: “I am pleased to see that Vivek Ramaswamy is doing so well in the most recent Republican Primary Poll, CBS YouGov.”
The Indian-origin candidates have many hurdles to cross, even to get their respective party’s nomination in the primary in which the Whites dominate. In the Republican Party, after Trump (52 per cent) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (24 per cent), Nikki has only 18 per cent support. It indicates she has a long way to go before being considered a serious candidate. The second would be to catch the imagination of the Americans.
They know that their ethnic background alone cannot win them an election. Thirdly, it is a question mark whether Americans would vote for a woman and that too of ethnic origin. Even Hillary Clinton, a white American, was rejected earlier as she could not mobilize the women voters in her favour.
Apart from these, others like Asa Hutchinson, Robert Kennedy Jr, Marianne Williamson, Tim Scott, Larry Elder and Mike Pence are likely presidential candidates. DeSantis is yet to announce his candidacy. He is considered Trump’s top challenger for the 2024 nomination.
Biden is the bookies’ current favourite. He is surging and leads both Trump and DeSantis in the polls. He has the momentum and financial muscle to embark on another successful presidential campaign. But it is too early to predict.