Tag Archives: Arpit Mehta

The Violent Revolution

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy in 1962. Both the Republican and the Democratic parties have shown the truth of this adage during the 2016 primary season.

At the Nevada Democratic Party convention on May 14, 2016, Bernie Sanders’ supporters resorted to violent behavior, devolving to death threats made against the chairwoman, Roberta Lange. The reasoning? They were upset with the allocation of delegates who favored Hillary Clinton over Sanders. This is nothing new, of course, except to those recently drawn in by the rhetoric of revolution put forth by the Sanders campaign. In 2008, when Barack Obama ended up with 66% of the superdelegates to become the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton quickly conceded, throwing her support behind the future President Obama. Yet Sanders’ supporters are unwilling to accept the long-standing traditions of the party, insisting instead that the rules be changed mid-game.

This wasn’t the first time violence has been employed to make a statement in the 2016 election season. In April, I witnessed the rioting after a Donald Trump rally in Costa Mesa, California.

The Trump campaign had announced and promoted a rally at the Pacific Amphitheater just two days before the event, hoping to secure the much-needed Californian delegates and to avoid a contested convention.

The Undocumented Narrative
The short time-frame was also meant to circumvent mass protesting from undocumented immigrants as well as their supporters.

Over the course of his campaign, Donald Trump has made sophomoric accusations regularly. Some of the grossest generalizations he has made have been regarding undocumented immigrants, portraying them as criminals responsible for being generally violent, drug traffickers, and carriers of infectious diseases. It should not be surprising, then, that people who have crossed the border in hopes for a better future would be offended by such remarks.

California, much like the nearby border states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, houses a significant number of undocumented immigrants. Well aware of the general response to his rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, Trump brought Jamiel Shaw on stage to share his tragic story before thousands of people.

In 2008, Shaw’s son was murdered by an undocumented immigrant who had recently been released from prison. Arrested for weapons charges and assaulting of an officer, he was allegedly on hold for deportation, but within a day of his early release, Pedro Espinoza shot and killed Jamiel Shaw, Jr. execution-style.

For many in the audience who had grown up around the underdeveloped and crime-rampant areas of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, this was a powerful story to connect with.

Outside the Amphitheater, long before Jamiel Shaw shared his story on stage, protestors had shown up in large numbers to oppose the Trump rally. The Democratic Party of Orange County organized the protest on Facebook, declaring they did “not believe that there [was] any room for racism, sexism, religious bigotry, disregard for international law, violence, or any other such phenomena in [American] political discourse.” While they clearly asked participants not to obstruct traffic and reminded them that this was aimed as a peaceful protest, blatant disregard for rules is quite common when tempers flare.

Uncivil Disturbance
The two blocks on Fair Drive that house the entrances to the Amphitheater’s parking lots were gridlocked. Parking spaces were filled by protestors’ vehicles to make it cumbersome for attendees. The crosswalks were filled by protestors and attendees alike. A corner gas station was used as a staging ground by mostly Hispanic crowds waving Mexican flags and holding up signs with either vulgarity aimed at Trump (such as “F**k Trump” and “Dump the Trump”) or “Bernie 2016,” amongst others. The chaos was disturbing.

Once the rally let out, arguments erupted between protestors and supporters. In a captured video, a car with passengers inside was rocked by protestors while insults and objects were hurled at them. Things escalated quickly and violence became the loudest sound of the disenfranchised. It was when police cars and SUVs became the objects of misdirected violence that the riot gear was donned and brought out.

Only an hour prior to this display, a presidential hopeful reiterated the violent tendencies of undocumented immigrants before a crowd of thousands of registered voters, voters who then walked out to observe violence at the hands of the very people group resenting that mischaracterization. The taxpaying residents, homeowners, and businesses of Costa Mesa were left holding the bill for all the damage left in the wake of rash decision-making.

Similarly, Nevada voters are unlikely to forget the reactionary Bernie supporters who incited violence when he didn’t receive the delegates they had hoped for. There is no denying that the system lacks uniformity and that change is required to make it more democratic. However, insisting that all the rules be changed because one’s desired candidate is not being favored is impetuous at best. Resorting to violence to such an end is even worse, especially when the candidate in question runs on a platform of peace and love.

Arpit Mehta is a portrait and wedding photographer, as well as a media specialist and consultant to creatives. His passion for writing stems from his desire to better understand the world from a philosophical and logical perspective, which leads him to focus on topics in the fields of politics, economics, spirituality, and technology. He lives in Orange County, CA.

What’s Driving “Indian Americans for Trump?”

With November just a short while away, Americans are excited and nervous about figuring out the next executive of these United States. But united is not what one could call the population. In fact, both parties seem to be having their own civil wars. For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton has the support of many of her peers and the party itself, but progressives and generally-unclassifiable millennials have thrown their support behind Bernie Sanders.

In a loosely similar fashion, the Republicans have been split into those supporting Donald Trump and those who do not. What is surprising on the right, however, is that there seems to be a growing faction of Indian Americans unexpectedly supporting the Trump candidacy.

donald_trumpIndian Americans for Trump
Professor A.D. Amar (Amar Dev Amar), a resident of Warren Township in New Jersey, filed with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this year to launch “Indian-Americans for Trump 2016,” a political action committee aimed to raise awareness and support for Donald Trump.

An accomplished and tenured professor at Seton Hall University, Amar previously ran for Congress in 2008, and had supported New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid until recently. Upon asking him about his reasons for supporting Donald Trump, Amar expressed that Indian Americans have been increasingly involved in the GOP for quite some time now, and that many are unifying behind Trump for many reasons, but the biggest one seems to be his trade policies.

China’s Currency Manipulation
In 2015, the U.S. trade deficit crossed half a trillion dollars, surpassed only by the all-time record set in 2006. Donald Trump considers China’s currency devaluing as one of the main reasons for this stat. His platform states that he would label China as a currency manipulator, and reciprocate with an equal tariff as high as 45% by keeping track of any and all devaluing. While that would appear to be a widely accepted position by Americans on both sides of the aisle, this is a policy that has been instituted before. One such example is the 1963 tariff imposed by Lyndon B. Johnson’s executive order, a byproduct of the “Chicken War.”

Chicken Tax
The post-World War II United States had seen a great increase in chicken farming, and so began exporting it worldwide. European countries upset by this placed a tariff on imports, hoping to encourage their local economies to grow. In retaliation, the United States put in place the Chicken Tax, a 25% tariff on imports of potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks. If that last item seems different than the others, it was. Light trucks were placed on the list as a bargaining tool to boost support for Johnson’s run in 1964 from United Auto Workers (UAW).

UAW, worried about increased Volkswagen imports was more than willing to strike a protectionary deal that would ward off competition. While the others have since been removed, the arbitrary high tariff on light trucks continues to remain. The result has been an American oligopoly in the pick-up truck market that’s curtailed innovation and fueled a gray market where auto importers modify trucks after they’ve been brought into the country under a different classification.

Interestingly, Professor Amar brought up UAW as a victim of the current American trade deficit.

While Donald Trump hasn’t clarified his stance on unions, the repercussions of the Chicken Tax may shed light on why many blue collar workers support his campaign so readily.

Manufacturing has steadily decreased in America, while China has become the world’s manufacturer. While this has been generally beneficial for Americans in terms of lower cost goods, as well as more freedom for present and future generations to pursue innovative avenues, there’s the matter of the old guard who wish to see a return of American manufacturing dominance. It certainly explains the draw to a tagline about making America great again.

However, this protectionary mindset will not resonate with the average right-wing voter. Twenty-six mostly-conservative leaning states have right-to-work laws, which prohibit union agreements. Additionally, conservatives echo lower taxes for everyone, perhaps not realizing that a tariff is simply a tax that gets absorbed into the final price. While criticizing Bernie Sanders’ payroll tax increase of 9-64% based on income brackets, Trump supporters seem to be unconcerned about the 15-45% increase on everyday necessities that would adversely affect middle-class workers.

There aren’t enough American manufacturers that could adequately supply enough products at a lower price in such a scenario, which would mean either shortages or price hikes. And that doesn’t even consider how China might retaliate. But while that should concern many conservative voters, it is a valued stance for “Indian Americans for Trump.”

Pulling Strings
Talking about some of the other issues that drive “Indian Americans for Trump,” Dr. Amar said that he appreciated the fact that Donald Trump was running a financially independent campaign. Without anyone pulling strings behind the scenes, he felt certain that this was a legitimate candidacy, as opposed to every other one on both the left and the right. He also talked about Trump’s religious declaration, mentioning that unlike his apparently overzealous counterparts, Trump didn’t prioritize his religion in his platform. For many Indian-Americans who do not fall under the Christian religion this was well-received. “He will listen to all sides,” said Dr. Amar.

Chris Christie’s Role
As a New Jersey resident and a previous Chris Christie supporter, he strongly believed that Christie would have a role to play in Trump’s cabinet. It is clearly evident now, but Dr. Amar made this bold claim a couple weeks before Super Tuesday, when most would not have anticipated it. That is certainly a credit to someone shaking up the Indian American community, especially considering that the few conservatives in that realm have sided against Trump. Since Trump isn’t accepting financial contributions, for now, the “Indian Americans for Trump” PAC is focusing solely on proselytizing through media advertising campaigns, volunteer memberships, and grassroots organizing.

Arpit Mehta is a portrait and wedding photographer, as well as a media specialist and consultant to creatives. His passion for writing stems from his desire to better understand the world from a philosophical and logical perspective, which leads him to focus on topics in the fields of politics, economics, spirituality, and technology. He lives in Orange County, CA.