The Appalachian Trail: Blame it on Apu

Some folks have been floating the idea of Bobby Jindal for McCain's Veep candidate. I say, bring it ON!

So, I was watching the boob tube the other night, and there was one of those typical, caviar-eating, latte-sipping, fey movie stars making fun of hard-working Americans by putting on the usual dumb hick accent. And it dawned on me: No wonder those folks are so bitter.
You can no longer make racist jokes on national television -- except during the Superbowl -- and yet, as far as backwoods whites are concerned, we're all still living the Simple Life. So a bunch of people who used to be able to openly indulge in racist jokes (That means you, barber in Prescott Valley), now find themselves the butt of crass stereotypes voiced in front of millions by some hoity, toity, holier-than-thou gay doctor types and millionaire heiresses. Meanwhile, even Arab Americans have their own show...

In fact, the only other ethnic group which is still fair play for public, light-hearted, inoffensive merriment are South-Asian Americans. I mean, just look at the lovable, hilarious Simpsons character Apu! As former colleagues have so aptly and often demonstrated to me, just say something in one of those melodic, Indian guy accents and I am rolling on the floor laughing. Use the same accent and say something about computers, and the milkshake will be bubbling out of my nose.

This realization gave me an idea for how Barack Obama could finally win over the coveted Hard-Working American demographic that's been so elusive -- G_d knows why -- during the primary campaign. Indeed, I believe that the only way that Senator Obama can channel white-working-class resentment into votes is by bashing South-Asian Americans.

First of all, everybody knows that Obama has an image of not being white, which is compounded by his being an elitist smarty pants. But just like the only way to win the war against the Iraqis is to fight the war against the even bigger assholes in Iran, all Obama needs to do to shake off his image problem is to bash the biggest non-white, elitist smarty pants in the country: Fareed Zakaria. It certainly helps that, in his writings, he has taken a clear stand against both Democracy and America. But who reads books anyway...

In addition, a lot of these hard-working Americans somehow lost all those jobs that the Clintons gave them during the 90s. Where did those jobs go? South-Asian Americans. Not only have I seen South-Asian Americans in every textile mill in South Carolina, but they are also stealing jobs in medicine, literature and right-wing punditry, that used to belong to hard-working white people. I mean, they're even smoking their pot and stealing their women. By pointing out this fact, Obama also opens up an opportunity to win back Latino voters by relieving them of the role of universal scapegoats.

This argument also ties in nicely with Democratic talking points about companies shipping jobs overseas. The proliferation of out-sourcing of call center jobs and, increasingly, white collar jobs to the Indian sub-continent reinforces the argument against Corporate America selling out US workers for lower wages. But, highlighting the South-Asian role in this perfidy touches on a visceral note that, I believe, will ring true with a certain universality. I envision a moment, where Obama takes the podium in Rustville, Ohio, and says:
"You know, I was trying to send an e-mail to my supporters the other day, and my Mac [BHO is totally not a PC guy] kept shutting down. So, Ohio, I got on the phone and called Mac support. This guy answered the phone with a funny accent. He was like 'Good day sir, I like cricket and Aishwarya Rai, my name is Craig, what can I help you with today?' And I think to myself, 'this is the same old game of calling yourself Craig, when your name is probably Rajesh.' This is the game John McCain plays when he calls tax cuts for the wealthy an economic recovery plan. America is tired of these games. Let's bring these jobs back to the real, hard-working Craigs of our heartland!"
OMFG, I can totally see Obama doing a perfect Indian accent (what else did he spend all that time in Indonesia for?) that will have the crowd just teary-eyed laughing in rueful recognition. And, I mean, we can all pretty much universally connect with having the tech support guy condescending to us with his technical advice. I mean who else besides me has just wanted to burst out like "I've already tried Ctrl+Alt+Delete like two times, and can you stop talking down to me just because Naveen Andrews plays an Iraqi on TV instead of a real Iraqi-American actor!"

Finally, Obama can do this with very little cost in popular vote totals. According to Census figures and growth projections, there are roughly 2 million South-Asian Americans. Their largest populations are concentrated in California, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Illinois. Four out of five of these states are already a lock to vote Democratic in November. Among the states with the fastest growth rate among South Asians -- Nevada, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon -- what are 20,000 votes here and there? Hardly likely to be game-changing, right?

If Obama is shrewd, he can in fact play Indian Americans against Pakistani Americans, of whom 56 percent voted for Bush in 2000. He can talk about Hindu values corrupting heartland values, and assimilate Indian Americans with East Coast elites. If he wins back Pakistani voters, he can offset losses of Indian voters in Georgia, Texas and Washington, make gains in Minnesota and North Carolina, and get the Hard-Working American voters needed to win West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Of course, some of Obama's low level aides began hinting at this strategy in the early days of the campaign, when they called Hillary Clinton the Democratic Senator from Punjab. Still, Mr. "Holier than thou" reprimanded his aides and trashed the strategy. Well, Senator, I think it's time to reconsider...

Naturally, there are immediate consequences for the campaign that would be hard to tolerate. For example, Obama could potentially lose the endorsement of one of his most attractive and intelligent celebrity supporters. But, frankly, I only have room for one man-crush per campaign. And, in that case, I'd rather reserve it for the top of the ticket.

Others might say that this strategy risks forging a long-term, broad-based coalition for a governing progressive majority, that it sacrifices a rapidly growing segment of an increasingly multicultural society, all for the sake of pandering to a declining proportion of voters whose adherence to the Democratic Party's core values and progressive message is suspect. If this primary season has taught us anything, though, it is that it is far nobler to go down to defeat with the overwhelming support of white racists than to win elections and build a stronger party.

1 comment:

UB said...

Very, very cool post!