Yes, I know. I apologize for the very annoying title of this post. I am sure a lot of you saw this article making the rounds this morning. It is about South Asian donors (Indian Americans in this case) stepping-up to donate to the candidates they support around the country. My cousin was one beneficiary of such donations:
On the last day of the third quarter, Democrat Manan Trivedi hosted a fundraiser for friends and family — his extended network of “Uncles and Aunties” — that raised $10,000 in two hours at the Lantern Lodge, an Indian-American-owned restaurant and hotel in southeastern Pennsylvania.
As one of three higher-profile Indian-American candidates running for Congress next year, Trivedi estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of the $127,500 he raised in the first three weeks of his campaign for Pennsylvania’s 6th district open seat came from his connections to the Indian-American community. And he said he’s only begun to tap into the affluent ethnic network, which has recently become fertile fundraising ground. [Link]
p>Money from desis alone is never going to be enough, and it should never be the only place a candidate reaches out, but it sure as hell seems to make a difference. In this case it was the difference between being forced out of a race that had barely begun vs. the opportunity to gain momentum and endorsements after a strong initial fundraising total. The best example of the desi dollar coming close to enabling an upset was Ashwin Madia’s race last year in Minnesota:
After Iraq War Veteran Ashwin Madia (D) lost a competitive open-seat race in the 2008 cycle to now-Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), it wasn’t clear when the next viable candidate would come along.
Madia raised about $2.4 million for his race. His fundraiser, Pandit, estimated that 25 percent to 30 percent of that money was from the Indian-American community.
Pandit said many Indian-Americans look to the Jewish community as their model for political activity.
“I think sort of emulating the Jewish community is what we’re doing right now,” Pandit said. “Our goal is where they are now, we’re aspiring to get where that community is. We don’t have the history of being in this country that a lot of Americans do.” [Link]
By no means am I advocating that South Asians should give blindly to any South Asian candidate or only too South Asian candidates. Ideally, the number one criteria for donating to a political campaign should always be, “does the candidate support my issues and my values and do I believe they can be an effective advocate?” If the answer is no then keep your money in your pocket. However, if a desi candidate pops up on the map and your answer to the previous question is yes, then why not?
“The Indian-American community has responded overwhelmingly in a way that I don’t think they’ve responded previously,” [Ami] Bera [D-California]said. “Obviously, there’s a fair amount coming out of our community and also from the broader medical community, and the overlap between the two.” [Link]
Overall, I hate that there is so much money in politics. Myself and fellow SM blogger Ravi got a taste of it at the DNC last year and it left us feeling a bit queasy. It is just the reality of our decaying system however. Money often makes the difference for a candidate, and our community finally seems to be loosening the spigot. I think you will increasingly see evidence that it does in fact make a difference.