In 1992 I wrote to the Indian American community in my capacity as Deputy National Political Director of the Clinton for President Campaign. In 2020 I am writing as a very concerned private citizen to the American Indian community with whom, a generation ago, I worked very hard to bring them into the center of national American politics. Memories of those, politically game changing experiences for the community, for America and for India remain with me always. In 2020 I am urging the Indian American Community to vote for President Trump.
A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for prosperity for all of America’s diverse communities, for stability both in America and in Asia. Extremist, cynical, leftist ideology, increasingly influencing the Democratic Party, need never, even remotely, define the heart of America. In this election there is a clear choice between Biden who has, for decades, supported policies out sourcing American knowhow and jobs and who has persistently advocated for a dictatorship that replaced them and, on the other hand, and, on the other hand, President Trump who has steadfastly determined to revive the American economy, as exemplified by, pre covid, the highest employment figures in decades. He has judiciously sought balance in global affairs, emphasizing the role of democracy and peace. Recent treaties and agreements in the Middle East, the Balkans and with China, together with reasoned agreement in sharing expenses with Nato partners, demonstrate President Trump’s success. President Trump espouses core American values. Biden is attempting to lead America toward radical Leftist ideologies, alien to Democracy and freedom.
Our collective American immigrant experience is one defined by journeying to America from environments where our ancestors’ full potential was stymied, or their freedoms curtailed. Collectively, we have learned about the dire consequences extremism imposes on personal liberty and human potential. We all carry the ghosts of ancestors who did not benefit from the experience that America afforded us. The Angel of history, and we, know the price humanity has paid to remove ideological extremists from power, the Nazis, Fascists, Communists of the Soviet and Chinese variety but a few examples. We know that to allow our free country and dynamic economy, however we must steadfastly improve, to be suppressed by insidious, extremist ideas taking hold of the Democratic Party, influenced by a menacing foreign communist power set to hobble our prosperity, is not acceptable, no matter what political party we have supported. We, together, have common purpose to safe guard our common future whatever our political party.
We are one people when we win the Olympics. We want to be one people against leftist extremism. We all win. There is no hope in political leaders aligned with extremism. There is no way for any of us to connect to an ever more so extremist Democratic Party.
Some citizens might not understand why or agree with how President Trump proceeds on any number of matters, or how, when, and why he tweets, or they choose not to. But, one way to judge the veracity of his commitment to assure that our nation not be economically and spiritually subjugated is the degree to which extremist Leftist forces- encouraged by and unchecked by their political allies holding senior Democratic Party political office-are trying to undo his numerous achievements. They are appropriating failed, often unacceptable, always sad, no matter the protocols followed, police procedures-some that should be reformed-as a vehicle by which to not only destroy Trump, but attempt to destroy America. Democratic leaders who authored the police procedures and run these police forces remain silent.
President Trump’s choice of words might not appeal to some voters, and on some occasions he might want to be more nuanced, But, most important, his actions speak volumes about his concern and love for America and about his support for a strong American democracy, strong economy, and strong relations between India in all it’s diversity and the United States in all it’s diversity. We need to support each other in common cause to assure that history’s martyrs felled by extremism, from Soviet Russia and North Korea to Cambodia and Communist China, are memorialized by our actions in protecting America from extremism. Voting for President Trump goes a long way to safe guarding our future well being.
In the early 1990’s, I worked very hard with numerous Indian Americans to create the foundation upon which a strong, diverse, politically engaged Indian American community has built a substantial political force, a model of civic engagement. I consider it an honor to have participated in this formation for the good. In the process I often included Americans who’s ancestors hailed from the sub continent region other than India, encouraging common ground. The scores of Indian American community leaders of different back grounds who I worked with were among the most outstanding individuals it has been my good fortune to be associated. We accomplished a very successful first-generation leap into national American politics.
But, now, this writer humbly suggests that this remarkable, by no means monolithic, political force should appraise the present situation, in the process recalling that they and their fore bearers did not venture to America from India, nor from other countries in that region, or from Kenya and Guyana, to face, emanating from the Democratic Party, an ever more destructive, ideological socialism and Communism, nor face an America economically and otherwise menaced by an Asian communist dictatorship with a President for life who mass imprisons dissenters, and suppresses Democracy in Hong Kong.
Thoughtlessness, indiscretion and, sadly, in some instances, bigotry categorizes a very few misguided and inappropriately trained law enforcement offices-most of whom are laudatory, committed, outstanding professionals-necessitates change, but not a revolution to over throw the very Constitution and Bill of Rights which assures that we journey, together, on a path toward equity for all. Strong protest is necessary, but we all realize that, however difficult the journey, America is trying, constantly, to realize it’s promise of justice for all. We have all worked too hard, too long, making much progress in community harmony, to allow America to be manipulated by odious ideologues.
I have seen, first hand, both the ugly side of hate and the enormous progression to acceptance of diversity over the last thirty years. My efforts to include the Indian American community in the Clinton Campaign were met with one overtly racist move after another, Clinton officials refusing to allow Indian Americans to attend their events or join their committees. Other groups met the same fate. In other instances there were clear, elitist attitudes, the-as they are now referred to in some circles-cosmopolitans verses average people. Needless to say, I was in shock. Some of those most nigoted officials went on to senior positions in the Clinton Administration, one to head a major Federally funded international bank, another appointed to a senior foreign affairs board. I often wonder if they excluded Indians and other targeted groups from their meetings. This sad haters had other groups on their exclusion list. They put me through hell.
So concerned at the distain they, and others, expressed, I organized a dinner at the Sheraton Hotel for 950 community leaders, a large number of them from the Indian American community. I also proposed the Clinton Milwaukee Goreign Affairs speech. At the time of the E Pluribus Unum Dinner, the Clinton Campaign was financially strapped, with major Democrat leaders attempting to block his nomination at the Convention, at least one trying to deter me from my efforts. The highly successful event sent a powerful message about the strength of new-and some older more established-communities, many of which had strong representation in key Electoral College states, many Tegan Democrats. The effort was difficult, my experiencing push back and raw prejudice every step of the way, the more prominent the erstwhile liberal Democratic Party leader, the more prejudice. That first generation of American Indian Community leaders seriously involved in a Presidential Campaign was tenacious, rising to the occasion, eventually contributing much to the effort.
During the Campaign I attended Indian American events, upon occasion giving speeches which I had written on Clinton’s behalf, direct messages from him, their content espousing United States India friendship and the virtues of America and of the Indian American community. I shook as many hands as possible, requesting each person’s vote and thanked them. I could still, today, muster a large list of Indian Americans who rose to the occasion, constructively assisting Clinton.
Recognizing the contributions of the communities I worked with and their importance to his Campaign, President Clinton wrote in his autobiography, ”My Life” that I ended up, “ Making an important contribution to victory in the general election, and laying the foundation for our continuing unprecedented contact with ethnic communities once we got to the White House.” These words also apply to many members of the Indian American community, each one of them having helped Clinton win the Electoral College by a large margin, in an election where 57% of those who voted cast their ballots against him.
Clinton also explains in his autobiography how I came to engage the Indian American press and come to know so many Indian American community leaders, “Chris started by buying about thirty ethnic newspapers and locating the leaders mentioned in them. After the primaries he organized a fund-raiser in New York with about 950 ethnic leaders, then moved to Little Rock to organize ethnic groups across the country…” I discovered India Abroad, India Today, among several others communities’ publications.
Regardless the on going contact afforded the American Indian Community in the White House and elsewhere in the new Clinton Administration, such excellent for domestic harmony and community involvement, unfortunately much to the contrary, relations during the beginning of the Clinton Administration, between India and America we amiss.
Shortly after Clinton was inaugurated President, the very concerned then Indian Ambassador to Washington Siddhartha Shankar Ray telephoned me requesting a Washington meeting. We had a long lunch at the Cosmopolitan Club, one that extended beyond the dining room’s closing and we met again for a private lunch at the apartment of the then Indian Consul General in New York who, with his wife, joined us for some of that visit.
Ambassador Ray knew of the extensive, ground breaking work I did among the Indian American community in my capacity as Deputy National Political Director of the Clinton Campaign, making every effort to include a large number of community members of diverse Indian backgrounds in the Clinton Campaign, an historic first in any Presidential Campaign. During the campaign I met an Indian Ambassador colleague of Ray’s at a large Indian American event in Atlanta where I spoke on Clinton’s behalf and he was a guest, Ray mentioning him to me. He knew of my several visits, long before the Campaign, to India, during which I travelled from Ladakh to Mahabalipuram.
During our two extensive meetings, Ambassador Ray made it clear that the Indian Government was concerned that the Clinton State Department was treating India unfavorably. His concern did not seem unfounded. India had for decades been close to the Soviet Union and followed a rigid, planned economy of the Soviet elk, one that I was familiar with in real terms, having visited alone as a school boy and with family behind the Iron Curtain at the height if the Cold War in the early 1960’s. I was surprised when I read, early in the Clinton Administration, a media report that appeared to indicate that the then Clinton Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Affairs seemed to infer in one of her communications that there might be American, or that there was American, support for the break up of India.
At the time, and until the Trump Administration, there was at State a preponderance of unfolding support for Communist China-human rights rhetoric aside-and for Pakistan: China to fill Clinton’s globalization obsession and Pakistan as erstwhile long time ally. Clearly there was much less support for India. China was already beyond the beginning stages of offering the lure of endless profits to global business, while India was a-just then about to be a dismantled-moribund state planned economy. Now that India sought interaction with America, the lack of balance on the American side was making India understandably uncomfortable. There was also, I am sure, raw prejudice.
Ambassador Ray asked for my assessment of and suggestions on improving bi-lateral relations between India and the United States of America. The ensuing conversation was candid, focused, to the point, moving along rapidly.
First, I mentioned that he should look to the Indian community experience in America for inspiration in formulating an approach to America. I explained that: Indian Americans, once in America, free of burdensome Indian Government regulation and caste considerations, prospered in all fields of endeavor; that India, which produced the highest number of advanced degrees in the world, was experiencing a staggering brain drain that enhanced every country were Indians settled, a disaster for the Indian economy and that there needed to be an immediate, without a moment to spare, comprehensive in most areas, abandonment of the Soviet model Indian state planned economy, a massive reversal of economic policy. On a micro economic level, I reminded the Ambassador that Indian textile firms were required to obtain export permits to sell Indian cloth on the international market. The Indian American communities‘ highly successful narrative in America made an important contribution to seminal change in Indian Government economy policy. Recognizing the diverse communities’ importance, increasingly leaders were invited to the Indian Embassy in Washington. Subsequently I learned that on several occasions, during these exchanges, leaders mentioned my political work.
Imagine, I pointed out, to Ambassador Ray, most importantly, what will happen in an India free of a rigidly planned economy, namely creativity will flourish: unbridled India would boom. I was forceful, expressing a large vision for India’s future, one that, I stressed, must be presented in the same way to the Clinton White House. America should be India’s model for the future: judicious, well chosen, in good measure, limited government involvement stimulating entrepreneurial based economic boom.
I mentioned: that trade with China and NAFTA were of primary importance to Clinton‘s globalization strategy so India should act fast, or risk being out of the picture; that India, in the event that it completely overhauled it’s over regulated economy, should appoint a Government Minister who’s portfolio was solely to assure realization of mutually beneficial, balanced trade between America and India; that due to modest trade between the two countries, India needed to present in an up beat fashion, a dynamic vision of mutually advantageous trading possibilities and that either Clinton should visit India or Rao visit Washington as soon as possible. Having gleaned much from visiting India on several occasions, from conducting very modest textile transactions with small Indian mills, from conversations with Lt. General J. T. Satarawala and a long one with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and with numerous other Indians and Indian Americans over the years, I was sure of the veracity of my advice.
I pointed out that because then Charge d’ affaires Walter J. Stoessel (later Ambassador to Moscow and Acting Secretary of State), who was our host in Moscow over Christmas 1963, laid the ground work to opening China to America during his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Poland, and that because my hometown Salem, Massachusetts, was the birth place of the American China Trade, I developed an interest in following China events, as best a lay person could. Should China remain stable, I speculated, it would eventually challenge America, and that a strong India was of long term strategic importance, however much, in the short term, the Clinton Administration preached unlimited globalization. It was important for India and America to begin serious discussions about mutual strategic defense and security issues. I made it clear that my suggestions were best, first and foremost, for America, and also for India.
Ambassador Ray listened to every word I said, even asking that I repeat some of my suggestions. I am quite sure he may have taken several notes. He confirmed that he, in turn, would repeat every word I said to Prime Minister Rao, that they would be suggestions the PM would want to hear and that he would act on them. I am confident that the Ambassador did exactly as he said he would. Ray, when he choose to be, was a powerful advocate who, on historic occasions, argued effectively to power. His role in India’s Emergency period- when he argued the viability of suspending the Indian Constitution-is well known as was his Governorship of Punjab.
Concerned that there was no progress in establishing a new paradigm for India relations with America, and impressed by my insight and vision for India’s future, Ambassador Ray requested that I intervene. Would I, he requested: act as an intermediary between then Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narasimla Rao and President Clinton; travel to India; meet with the Prime Minister; reiterate the views on India’s future which I had expressed to Ray and return to Washington conveying a personal message from the Prime Minister to the President?
I declined Ray’s request, a decision I have come somewhat to regret. Somehow I should have made it work. I was not a registered lobbyist. I was mot compensated for my views. He asked me who in Washington might help him in animating my suggestions, my giving him the names of Washington players I perceived, at the time, close to the White House and who I thought were lobbyists.
Proof in action occurred. Rao visited Washington in June, 1994, by all accounts, including Clinton’s, presenting a dynamic, forward thinking, prepared to make economic reforms Indian narrative, with America responding, at least in the short term, favorably. India did, very soon after my conversation with Ambassador Ray, embark on swiftly implemented, staggering, transformational change in economic, development, business and other matters. Regrettably, although these policy changes ushered India to much economic growth then and since, the situation with the USA did not harmoniously sustain itself, no matter the revisionist narrative espoused in some quarters. India, still feeling justifiably threatened, dropped an Atomic bomb on May 11, 1998, with Pakistan following later in the month by dropping their first Atomic bomb.
Although this period marks India emerging as a modern era significant power, with the subsequent decades witnessing her rapid economic growth, much on an American model, trade between America and India is still relatively modest. I have come to admire Ray and Rao for the roles they played in forming the emergence of modern India, and I was pleased to have been a small footnote.
Of one point there is little doubt, in the Trump era, a huge emphasis has been placed on India as a key player in the effort to achieve diplomatic strategic balance in Asia. The only possible hindrance to growing co operation between India and America could be the growing concern in some quarters in America about religious toleration in India, a subject near and dear to a large swath of the American electorate. Prodi need be cautious. All politics is local.
Of one thing we may all be sure, It has become quite evident that the primary forces that benefit from the rise of antiquated, stifling, Ideological socialism in America are both the leaders of the Democratic Party, who appear to be encouraging it’s rise in an effort to destabilize the election and the country, and a massive Asian power led by a president for life to whom some of those Democratic Party leaders are closely affiliated through that power’s financial reach. This is not the path forward for America, this is not the America of great promise which the Indian American community is a vital part of.
We need not allow the sad and tragic events of miscarriage of justice to cloud the on going, ever more inclusive and tolerant, beneficial American narrative in history, of which we are all a part, grace our founders, however imperfect they might have been, creation of the most remarkable civic documents ever written, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Hill of Rights. Absent these governing documents, there is anarchy. The Democrats, who have lost their way, have been and are continuing to give us a frightening preview during this Presidential Campaign of the future as they envision it: burning cities; murder; lawlessness; a diminished American economy to favor China; unemployment, Leftist extremism, and lack of hope.
India and America have not prospered as a result of ideological socialists and the rigid totalitarian societies they espouse. To the contrary, America and India flourish because they embody the very opposite.
Trump is the only voice willing to challenge the Leftist ideologues, and seek balance in our global trade and foreign affairs. In doing so he and all Americans are safe guarding our exceptional American journey towards a continuously improved, inclusive, prosperous Democracy.
Christopher Hyland: Former Dep. Nat. Pol. Dir. 1992 Clinton Campaign; recipient of a Saint Patrick Award for Peace in Ireland, and life long Republican.
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