India’s election shows the world’s largest democracy is still a democracy

“If the basic test of whether a country remains a democracy is that the party in power can still suffer a setback at the ballot box, India passed”

“Results from the nation’s parliamentary elections — the largest in the world — indicate a shocking electoral setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Setback,” to be clear, is a relative term here. At the end of the staggered six-week election, Modi will become only the second Indian prime minister to win a third consecutive term. As of this writing, the BJP-led National Democracy Alliance (NDA) has won 289 seats in the 543-seat parliament and is leading in one more. A majority requires 272 seats.

The BJP itself has won 240 seats. That’s more than any Indian party won between 1984 and 2009, when Modi first came to power, and in most elections, it would have been an amazing result. But the expectations game is real, and Modi and his party lost it.

During the campaign, the NDA had a stated goal of winning 400 seats: a supermajority that would have allowed them to push through major legislative and constitutional changes. They didn’t come close. And after winning an absolute majority on its own in the last election, the BJP will likely now have to rely on its smaller coalition partners in the NDA to form a government.

Exit polls over the weekend were also wildly wrong, with most incorrectly projecting around a 350-seat victory for Modi. (One of the more bizarre media moments on Tuesday was a prominent pollster breaking down in tears on Indian TV over his erroneous forecast and being comforted by his fellow panelists on camera. Not something you’re likely to see from Frank Luntz.)

The opposition Congress Party, which very recently looked headed for political oblivion under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the much-mocked fourth-generation scion of India’s most prominent political dynasty, appears likely to double its tally from the last election.”

India just showed the world how to fight an authoritarian on the rise

“the BJP held just 240 seats. They not only underperformed expectations, they actually lost their parliamentary majority. While Modi will remain prime minister, he will do so at the helm of a coalition government — meaning that he will depend on other parties to stay in office, making it harder to continue his ongoing assault on Indian democracy.”

“after looking at the information that is available and speaking with several leading experts on Indian politics, there are at least three conclusions that I’m comfortable drawing.
First, voters punished Modi for putting his Hindu nationalist agenda ahead of fixing India’s unequal economy. Second, Indian voters had some real concerns about the decline of liberal democracy under BJP rule. Third, the opposition parties waged a smart campaign that took advantage of Modi’s vulnerabilities on the economy and democracy.”

Are we in a new Cold War?

“If there is a Russian ideology, it’s ethnic nationalism. China’s case is also largely nationalism. In China, nationalism began to displace communism as an ideology in the 1970s, after the Cultural Revolution. It comes from the disappointment of the population with ideological dogma and with the great promise of a communist revolution that never happened. The Chinese Communist Party was facing a legitimacy deficit, and they were looking for things to fill it — so nationalism replaced communist revolution. The same thing happened with the Soviet Union falling apart; the Russian Federation had to reinvent itself on the basis of Russian nationalism.”

Chicago’s Monumental Mistake

“the committee has declined to list statues of Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet in the era of the #MeToo movement, it has become clear that his treatment of women was far from exemplary. His comments on North Vietnamese Communists reveal a blind spot toward the totalitarianism that continues to affect many Vietnamese and billions of others. Of course, these defects, like those of Washington and Lincoln, are no reason not to celebrate King’s great contributions with monuments—as Chicago has rightly done.”

“Liberal societies allow people to pursue their own projects (and, increasingly, identities). And yet even a liberal society needs some shared ties of national memory to hold people together despite their differences. The Chicago committee suggests that monuments to such a memory should either be removed entirely or be transformed into screens on which we can project contemporary grievances. In attacking the best of our forebears, Lightfoot and her committee not only make our common past a casualty of our divided present. They also threaten the foundation on which our future would be built.”

How Hindu Nationalism Could Shape the Election

“it was Khanna’s invocation of “Hindutva” in his tweet that was perhaps most telling, reflecting the increasingly complicated role Hindu nationalism plays in U.S. politics at a time when Indian American and Hindu politicians—and the communities they hail from—are growing in number and power.

Most Americans probably have never heard the word “Hindutva,” but it’s a common term among subsets of the Indian diaspora, particularly those who follow Hindu nationalism. To its advocates, Hindutva, or “Hindu-ness,” is a benign, catch-all term for Hindu culture that encompasses its history, language, civilization and religion. But its origins and deployment are rooted in a nationalist, and often violent, vision of Indian culture.

The ideologue who coined the term in 1923, V.D. Savarkar, emphasized indigeneity as the bloodline of a nation. He defined “Hindus” as those who consider India both their homeland and their holy land—a definition that includes Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, but not Christians or Muslims. In his speeches and writings, Savarkar made clear that he saw Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews as a model for dealing with India’s Muslims. Today, some Hindus emphasize Hindutva as a way of life. But it is also the ideology used in India to justify ultranationalist politics and defend religious bigotry, militancy and Hindu majoritarianism—especially since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Now, in the United States, a small but vocal group of donors and activists is pressuring Indian American and Hindu politicians to embrace the ideology, while criticizing as “Hinduphobic” those who reject Hindutva for its nationalist roots. These Hindutva advocates hope to use the ideology as a wedge issue for the roughly 1.9 million Indian American eligible voters in this country, who represent one of the fastest-growing and wealthiest immigrant groups in the United States. Fifty-six percent of Indian American voters consider themselves Democrats, and in a recent survey, nearly three-quarters said they plan to vote for Joe Biden for president. But 22 percent are still up for grabs as independents who don’t affiliate with any party.

Support for Hindutva in the United States doesn’t necessarily fall along the Democratic-Republican spectrum. But last year, a group of well-heeled Indian Americans founded a new PAC, Americans for Hindus, to take a stronger partisan line. The group—formed in response to what its website calls “anti-India and anti-Hindu statements and actions” from Democrats—is supporting 13 Republican congressional candidates across the country this cycle, including a challenger to Khanna. Few expect the influence of Hindutva to radically shift Indian American voters to the right, particularly in liberal districts like Khanna’s. But it could at least make a dent in a politically polarized population that includes 500,000 voters in swing states.”

Trump Pushed To Condemn White Nationalist Proud Boys, Instead Tells Them ‘Stand Back and Stand By’

“Biden was pressed (as he has been this summer) to disavow violence and rioting by antifa protesters. Biden did so, saying “Violence is never appropriate.”

Host and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace then noted that Trump has been criticized repeatedly for refusing to denounce the violence that comes from white nationalists at some of these protests. Wallace asked Trump, “Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?”

Trump said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that, but I would say, almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing.” After demanding from Wallace specific names of groups he should condemn, Biden and Wallace settled on the Proud Boys. Trump responded not with condemnation but by saying “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” Then he veered the discussion immediately toward antifa violence, saying “I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”

That’s not a condemnation. Trump still, unlike Biden, seems unable to repudiate violence from people who support him.”

“Regardless of the president’s intent, the Telegram account for the Proud Boys reportedly immediately made a mockup a logo with “Stand Back” and “Stand By” as text, suggesting that the message they received is to wait for potential action. The Daily Beast reports that Proud Boys leader Joe Briggs wrote on Parler that in reality, “Trump basically said to go fuck them up. This makes me so happy.””

“given a chance to more carefully frame a statement, Trump was much more clear at telling the Proud Boys to “stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” according to Bloomberg’s White House reporter”

““They have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” Trump says of Proud Boys, adding “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are.””