Home » After United Kingdom, America too can have an Indian-origin leader

After United Kingdom, America too can have an Indian-origin leader

After United Kingdom, America too can have an Indian-origin leader

The rise of Rishi Sunak to the top post in the United Kingdom was seen as an achievement of the Indian diaspora in the West. Now, it could be the turn of the US to elect an India-origin leader. US President Joe Biden is behind many national surveys, especially after the first presidential debate. Democrats are now trying to look for his replacement. Though Biden has refused to pull out of the race for the White House in the most unambiguous words, some people believe that he would have to step aside sooner or later and it is not the question of if but when.

Vice-President Kamala Harris, born to an Indian mother, who had migrated to the US, and Jamaican father, tops the list of the probables if Biden pulls out of the race. Amid the swirling uncertainties, discussions among top Democratic circles are already shifting towards the prospect of Vice President Kamala Harris potentially leading the party’s ticket in the upcoming election, CNN reported. Many leading party figures, operatives, and donors are increasingly convinced that Biden’s efforts to rejuvenate his campaign may not suffice. Close allies express scepticism about his ability to lead a successful re-election bid, according to CNN’s conversations with numerous Democratic politicians and strategists.

Some polls favour Harris
Recent polls suggest Harris could do better than Biden against Trump, the Republican candidate, although she would face a tight contest. A CNN poll released on July 2 found voters favor Trump over Biden by six percentage points, or 49% to 43%. Harris also trailed Trump, 47% to 45%, within the margin of error. It also found independents back Harris 43%-40% over Trump, and moderate voters of both parties prefer her 51-39%.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll after last week’s televised debate between Trump and a faltering Biden found Harris and Trump were nearly tied, with 42% supporting her and 43% backing him. Only former first lady Michelle Obama, who has never expressed any interest in joining the race, polled higher among possible alternatives to Biden.

Internal polling shared by the Biden campaign after the debate shows Harris with the same odds as Biden of beating Trump, with 45% of voters saying they would vote for her versus 48% for Trump, Reuters reported. Influential Democrats including U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, who was key to Biden’s 2020 win; Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York congressman and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Summer Lee, a House Democrat from Pennsylvania have signaled Harris would be the best option to lead the ticket if Biden chooses to step aside. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has also privately signaled the same to lawmakers, a Congressional aide told Reuters.

Harris is taken so seriously, two Republican donors told Reuters they would prefer for Trump to face Biden than her. “I would prefer Biden to stay in place”, rather than be replaced by Harris, said Pauline Lee, a fundraiser for Trump in Nevada after the June 27 debate, who said she thought Biden had proved himself to be “incompetent.””She would energize the Black, brown, and Asian Pacific members of our coalition … she would immediately pull the dispirited youth of our country back into the fold,” said Tim Ryan, a former Democratic Congressman from Ohio, in a recent op-ed. Democratic and Republican suburban women may also be more comfortable with her then Trump or Biden, he said.”Her greatest weakness is that her public brand has been associated with the far-left wing of the Democratic Party … and the left wing of the Democratic party cannot win a national election,” Dmitri Mehlhorn, a fundraiser and adviser to LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman, told Reuters. “That is the challenge that she will have to overcome if she is the nominee.”

Officials have started reprimanding donors sceptical of Harris’ electability, urging them to rally behind her candidacy. Plans are reportedly underway to persuade Biden to endorse Harris promptly, release his delegates, and encourage their support for her. This strategic move aims to preempt potential internal conflicts over the Democratic ticket leadership, as reported by CNN.

‘Harris cannot rescue the Democrats’
Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian and professor who had correctly predicted nine out of the last 10 elections, has a word of advice for the Democrats. He has said that Biden is the best person to contest the upcoming election and Harris cannot rescue the Democrats. Litchtman had previously said that a 90-minute debate cannot be sufficient to judge a candidate whose track record including pulling the US economy out of danger and creating more jobs will weigh on the voter’s mind.

Allan Lichtman has said that there are 13 key indicators in the form of true or false questions and if a party fails in six or more of the 13 indicators, they lose the election. He stated that Biden has passed in seven key indicators including incumbency, no significant primary contest, no recession during the election, a strong long term-based economy based on real per capita economic growth compared to the average of the previous two terms, major policy changes, no major scandal pertaining directly to the president and an uncharismatic challenger.

By removing Biden and giving a nomination to Harris, Lichtman believes that the Democrats lose two keys secured by Biden: incumbency and the primary contest. He pointed out the Democrats have high chances of losing the election if this were to happen.

The only way for the Democrats who seek to replace Biden with Harris would be for Biden to step down as the US President and for Harris to take over the presidency for a few months. This would then enable her to gain the incumbency key.

Hope floats in Kamala Harris’ ancestral village
In 2021, the leafy village of Thulasendrapuram, where Harris’s maternal grandfather was born more than a century ago, celebrated her inauguration with firecrackers, free chocolate, posters and calendars featuring the vice president. The village’s residents want more this time, given the news coming from the U.S. which they are following on TV and social media, Reuters reported.

“There will be a larger celebration this time as she is expected to contest for president,” K. Kaliyaperumal, a member of the village committee, told Reuters. He said if she was nominated, the reaction would be like it was for India’s cricket team, whose recent World Cup win sparked a frenzy in the country.

Harris visited Thulasendrapuram when she was five and has recalled walks with her grandfather on the beach of Chennai and where the family later lived. But she hasn’t been back since becoming vice president.

“Residents expected a visit, statement or at least a mention about the village, but that didn’t happen,” G. Manikandan, a shopkeeper in Thulasendrapuram, where some 2,000 people live, told Reuters. “Many people hung calendars with her picture outside their homes when she became vice president. They are not so prominent anymore. But it’s likely they’ll now make a comeback.”

(With inputs from agencies)