By Sid Sharma
I was surprised (to put it mildly) when I found out that there was an Indian American PAC dedicated to the electoral victory of Donald Trump. The shock comes from looking at a well-known statistical picture: most Indian Americans vote Democrat and have done so overwhelmingly for the last few elections. Nevertheless, I came across an organization called Indian Americans for Trump 2016 that is advocating for the New York developer.
I chatted with the leader of the group, A. D. Amar – who by day is a Professor of Business at Seaton Hall University – to understand how he came to be a Trump Republican, to figure out how Trump’s economic policy would actually work, and asked him pointedly if his candidate’s tone and policies are unnecessarily divisive and exclusionary.
Sid Sharma: Tell me about yourself. What was your political journey?
A.D. Amar: I was born and raised in India and I came here as a student. At that time all Indians were so enamored with Kennedy that we all believed the Democratic party was the right party.
For example, I thought Jimmy Carter would be a very good president. He was an engineer, a businessman, an honest person, hard-working farmer, and so on. But when I saw him in office, I changed my mind. We really don’t want a person who is nice. We want a person who knows how to deal with the rest of the world and how to protect American interests.
From the time of Reagan onwards, I have been a Republican. I ran as a Republican for Congress from New Jersey’s 7th district in 2008.
SS: What initiatives is your organization working on?
AD: Our main goal is to educate and provide information to the Indian community about Donald Trump. Not just the Indian American community but to the general population. We are not collecting any money and don’t have any plans to collect any money, because Trump does not want any money from the PACs.
SS: Given that the Indian American community has voted for the Democratic Party so overwhelmingly in the last election, what is it about Trump that can attract those votes?
AD: The reason many people supported Obama was because they thought Obama was a non-traditional politician. For example, during his 2008 campaign, he had openly condemned lobbyists and political campaign contributions. But we didn’t get any change. It’s the same feeling among many Americans, particularly working Americans, who believe they have been cheated out of their right to have a good life.
SS: Even some conservative groups such as the Club for Growth have called Trump an economic isolationist. How would you defend your candidate?
AD: If it is isolation, we’ll be better off as a country. By not being isolationist, we have been losing trillions of dollars every year to these other countries who simply say, “Oh, you can’t be isolationist, and you have to keep engaged.”
SS: Does Trump’s tone make America look intolerant?
AD: All right, fine. Let me first address the international affairs part of your question. We in fact want a president who has some attitude. America should be portrayed as an exceptional country. I definitely believe that is a big plus on part of Donald Trump.
We already noticed his domestic tone change and it will stop as we go further into the primary process. He will try to be a different person. He has already said on a few occasions that his tone will be different.
SS: What advice would you give Trump as he gets ready for Super Tuesday?
AD: Just don’t do anything that annoys people. That’s it. Just stay calm and behave like a front runner. Behave like a leader.
Responses edited for brevity and clarity.
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