Monday, October 29, 2007

Of Bobby Jindal, Religion and the US electorate

Bobby Jindal recently became the first Indian-American to be elected the Governor of a US State. A remarkable achievement indeed. More remarkable is the age at which he has achieved it (36 years) and the state he has achieved it in (Louisiana - highly conservative,bottom of the rankings on most developmental indices, minuscule Indian-American population) .

Most news commentaries on his achievement have elaborated on the fact that he converted to the Roman-Catholic faith very early in life. They somehow seemed to imply that though he was Indian-American , he was a Roman Catholic and that made him more acceptable, more mainstream. Louisiana is a majority Roman-Catholic state.One would have thought that pledging one's soul to the Pope was not a prerequisite to getting elected. However it is a reminder of the extent to which faith and religion play a role in American politics.

Would be quite an uphill climb for the likes of Mitt Romney (Mormon), Hillary Clinton (woman), Barack Obama (African American) in the presidential races. Kennedy(Catholic) had broken the hold of the WASP(White Anglo Saxon Protestant) male but now it seems like WASE (White Anglo Saxon Evangelical) male is the profile that calls the shots.

But then I may be proven wrong. And I hope I will, because the ideals on which this country is founded -"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are too visionary to be shackled by sex, race or religion.

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