Jindal All the Way?

Now that Barack Obama is president, is it time to think about who will challenge him in 2012?

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Jindal is embraced by his party as a strong leader with conservative values. He supports teaching intelligent design in schools and opposes stem cell research. And unlike Obama, Jindal will not be able to count on his own ethnic community because most Indian Americans are registered Democrats. (Given their small numbers in America, it would not matter anyway.) 

What does matter is that both men represent a changing tide in American politics—and the Republican Party knows it. During the 2008 campaign, Bob Schieffer of CBS News asked John McCain on Face the Nation, “How can you survive as a party if you become just the party of white people?” McCain’s answer? “We can’t.”  

That explains why so many Republicans are getting behind the country’s youngest governor, born to Indian immigrants, so proactively. Obama’s the man to beat, and if a brown man can do it, a brown Republican, it would, in essence, make the GOP a party of “change,” too.

So, could Jindal, if he chooses, be a viable presidential candidate in 2012? Absolutely—but he will also only be 41, younger than Obama is now; and that will make him more susceptible to charges of inexperience and naïveté. It may be smarter for him to wait, but implicit in any debate around Jindal, is an acknowledgment that an Indian American can be president. That alone is a huge shift from just two years ago, when names like Romney, Clinton, Giuliani and Edwards dominated the scene.  

From Barack to Piyush? Possibly. President Obama has completely rearranged the playing field and changed the way we think of politics.


Shiwani Srivastava is a Seattle-based freelance writer covering South Asian American cultural trends and community issues.