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Golden chance for Indian-born Jindal

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 01:55 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Republican Party

The Republican Party is in tatters. Over the next few years the party will have to rebuild itself and even select new faces in the coming decade. Among the top candidates for the job is the Indian-born governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. “Jindal is going to be one of the big gainers from a full-scale Republican defeat,” said a key Indian-American political fund-raiser.

The Republicans are roughly at the same stage in their history that the Democrats were at after the Ronald Reagan wave. What was notable about John McCain’s defeat was how many traditionally red states turned blue. Virginia, for example, has not voted Republican for 44 years.

The Grand Old Party will need to carry out three separate reforms.

First will be to find working ideology. McCain’s defeat indicates that the Reagan mix of Christian votes and tax cuts can no longer win independent and moderate votes. Without these, the party cannot win the presidency.

Jindal is part of a younger generation of Republicans who retain the conservative values but combine it with high levels of administrative efficiency and a squeaky-clean image. It helps that Jindal made his mark in the field of healthcare, one of the issues that led many working class Americans to defect to the Democrats. Jindal is scheduled to visit Iowa next month, a pilgrimage that all presidential hopefuls make.

Governor Mitt Romney, who ran against McCain, is another person of this ilk. A speechwriter for McCain said, “Jindal, Romney, Palin and Jon Huntsman of Utah are among the other names in the fray.”

Columnists in Jindal’s state of Louisiana had no doubts he was the man. “Unlike Palin, who ended the season with extraordinarily high negatives, Jindal isn’t divisive, and he rarely finds himself in over his head.”

Second the party will need to find a new leadership. Many of the Republican presidential wannabes this year will fade into oblivion. This would include McCain but also Rudy Giuliani.

One of the people the election has brought into the limelight is Sarah Palin. “Palin is extremely ambitious so you haven’t seen the end of her,” said an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. However, Palin attracts as much contempt as she does adulation even among Republican voters. It was noticeable that McCain lost Western states like Colorado, generally seen as libertarian strongholds, as well as conservative states like Indiana. His inability to even secure funding from corporate America was another sign of malaise.

But Barack Obama, for all practical purposes, will have no serious political opposition for at least the first two years of his term.

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