Dynastic trends in India vs. America


India has been run by a dynasty for major part of its independence. However, 2014 saw a non-dynastic candidate Narendra Modi with very humble roots connecting with young and old and gaining a massive mandate in the 2014 elections. America is also getting ready for the Presidential elections in 2016 and the stakes look high even as campaigning gets rigorous and quirkier with different political parties entering the race, and more than a dozen Republicans and a handful of Democrats announcing that they are running for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

I find it interesting that politics has become a family business in India, be it the Gandhi family or the Chautalas in Haryana, or Abdullahs in Kashmir, or Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh etc. But the US Presidential elections has a couple of similarities with Indian politicians in terms of political dynasties. There is a chance that a showdown between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential polls could be on the cards. I wonder if like in India, political power is also turning into a family business in America. While a Bush or Clinton dynasty (as President or Vice President) has been around for over 30 years (1981 to 2009) and that is not to say that if you come from a political family, you should be disqualified, in fact there are some natural advantages of being part of one. However, it should not be a system that shuts off other capable candidates as it seems to happen in India, the Karunanidhi family dominated DMK, the Gandhi’s dominated Congress and so on.

Similarly, political lineage is not uncommon in American politics. George Bush was elected as the Land Commissioner of Texas in 2014. He is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, who was Texas governor before he took to the White House. Similarly, in Massachusetts, Joseph Kennedy III, son of a former congressman, grandson of a former US senator and presidential candidate (Robert F Kennedy) and the offshoot of the Kennedy family, got re-elected to the US House of Representatives in 2014. As India seems to be moving towards more of a meritocracy in politics, it seems like the US might be lurching more towards a dynasty.

Political dynasties have played a role in American history, but this is also a country that elected President Obama for two successive terms.

Do you support independent political entrants or do you like dynastic candidates? Why? Write to me.

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