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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.
Indian 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.”
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.”
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.