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Stateside With Rosalea: Cowboys and Indians

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Cowboys and Indians

::Two things I'd do...::

... to improve US politics. First, I'd set term limits for US Senators. Because of gerrymandered districts and the likelihood that the longer a senator is in office they will remain in office, they are the US equivalent of the British peerage, only with a frightening amount of very real power.

I'd also encourage the dismantling of the full-frontal public primary system of voters registered in a particular party being wooed by potential candidates from their party. Who in their right mind is ever going to vote for a Democrat for governor of California in November, when the lead-up to the June 6 primary is so ugly, ugly, ugly?

Judging by the TV ads that I get a glimpse of, voters who are registered as Democrats get to choose next week between two Kickback Cowboys as the candidate who will go forward against Arnold Schwarzenegger in November. Meanwhile, Arnie--the largely uncontested choice of Republicans--can sit back and rub his hands in glee as the Dems self-destruct.

::Indian Americans::

Speaking of Arnold, there's a great segment at showing how comfortable he is even joking about the cultural differences that are always full-frontal in California. TiEcon was a conference held in Silicon Valley on May 12-13, and the influence of the organization behind it--which is only 12 years old--is reflected in the calibre of the speakers it attracted. Howard Dean is interviewed on the same WahIndia website.

From the TiE website: "TiE, a not-for-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals, was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley, California, USA. Although its birth name, The Indus Entrepreneurs, signifies the ethnic South Asian or Indus roots of the founders, TiE stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise. It is an open and inclusive organization that has rapidly grown to more than forty chapters in nine countries. TiE endeavors to cultivate and nurture the ecosystems of entrepreneurship and free-market economies everywhere, as it sees this to be the single most powerful instrument of prosperity."

From that last sentence you might think that the Indian American community would naturally gravitate towards the Republican Party, which always talks up entrepreneurship, small business, and free-market economics. But in fact, the difficulties many South Asians have experienced as a result of the Bush Administration's handling of immigration issues after 9/11 have turned them away from the Republican Party, if they were ever enamoured of it in the first place.

::A horse race of a different colour::

Some younger Indians, second and third generation US citizens, are attracted to colours on the political spectrum other than the blue of Democrats and the red of Republicans. One such candidate on the ballot this June 6 if you're registered Green is Mehul Thakker, who is uncontested for his party's nomination to run for State Treasurer in November.

Thakker was born in Texas and is "an Investment Advisor in Oakland, CA with a focus on Socially Responsible Investment and Community Development," according to his website at, where you will also learn his thoughts on how to fix the most broken system in the US, health care:

"Recognizing that managing public health and its costs are very important to California, I advocate changing to a single payer healthcare system. By pooling our risk, eliminating the wasteful “administration” costs of healthcare companies (which are really just the underwriting costs associated with determining whom to DENY healthcare to), and combining all of California’s various and confusing plans, we can save $343 billion dollars over the next 10 years (Lewin study) and cover thousands of currently uninsured Californians. That’s money in the bank for schools, energy programs, and public benefit projects."

::Courting the Sikh vote::

A recent on-line article in the Panthic Times showed one of the candidates vying for Democrats' endorsement as candidate for Lieutenant Governor in November--Jackie Speier--visiting the Sikh Gurdwara in Fremont, which is in the southern part of the East Bay.

The article says that, "With approximately 10,000 members, according to the leaders of Fremont Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Temple, it has become a popular place for Democratic politicians. Their praise for Speier is not in any way an endorsement. They welcome other candidates to address worshipers too."

Jackie Speier is currently a Senator in the California legislature, and entered politics after surviving being shot five times while accompanying Congressman Leo Ryan on a fact-finding trip to Jonestown, Guyana. A fact that is pointed out graphically in her television ads, which have a voice-over by sixties counter-culture icon Peter Coyote.

Since Coyote often voices the narration for Public Broadcasting Service documentaries, Speier's ads carry an implicit weight of authority with liberals just by him lending his voice to her election campaign. (So there is no confusion here, Coyote is neither an Indian American nor an American Indian, even though his adopted name might suggest that.)

Photos of Speier's visit to the Gurdwara, with accompanying captions that give a background to Sikh's concerns about how they are perceived in the US, are here:



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