One of the most influential Americans of Indian origin, Dr. Frank F. Islam is a very close friend of president Obama, campaigner and fundraiser of the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In 2015 he was conferred the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service.
As the American Presidential race intensifies and Donald Trupm’s notoriety reaches far ends of the globe with many viewing him as an inevitable calamity while others of his own ilk holding havans for his success, Frank F. Islam is one person with total disregard for Trumph as a thing worthy of any deliberation.
In this online interview with MuslimMirror.com Frank F. Islam talks about how Donald Trump is an overrated improbability and why Hillary Clinton’s election as President of America would be in best interest of India and Indian American diaspora.
What do you think is the reason for Donald Trump’s extremist views finding resonance with a large number of Americans?
First, let me say that I don’t believe Trump’s extremist views have found resonance with a large number of Americans. They have found resonance with some of the Republican voters who vote in primaries.
That’s about 20% of registered Republicans and a little less than ½ of them have voted for Trump in all of the primaries. That means these views resonate with about 10% of Republican voters.
These voters have taken control of the Republican Party. The Republican Party used to be the party of the business establishment and moderate conservatives. Mitt Romney, as a member of the establishment and a moderate, managed to keep it that way by drifting far right in his race for President in order to get the nomination in 2012. In my opinion, on a national basis, those days are gone forever.
In 2016, Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz (by far the most conservative and anti-establishment candidate of the elected officials who were running in the Republican primaries), dominated the primaries. Together Trump and Cruz garnered a clear and convincing majority of the votes cast in Republican primaries.
That tells the story of the status of the Republican Party today. It is already in the hands of the right wing “populists”
Trump has recognized and tapped into that populism. He did so by appealing to its “darker, uglier and cruder” side. For those to whom he appeals, his views are their views.
By contrast, Trump’s unfavorable ratings with Republicans, Democrats and Independents is around 70%. I believe that’s the highest negative rating in history. His views have absolutely no resonance with that 70%.
What role has emergence of ISIS played in influencing the mind of American voter?
I think ISIS has influenced the mind of Americans in two ways. First, in general, I think it has made the American public feel more insecure and fearful. That is natural because given its strikes in different places around the world ISIS as a terrorist group has no respect for national boundaries or the conventional rules of engagement. Every one regardless of their nationality or religion should be concerned and on guard.
Second, because ISIS purports to practice the Muslim faith – even though what it does not square at all with the Muslim religion that we know – the uninformed American voter tends to tarnish all Muslims with the ISIS brush and will vote accordingly. Notice that I said “uninformed”, there are many Americans who recognize who ISIS is and that has no impact on their mind or how they will vote.
If Donald Trump comes to power how will it effect Indian diaspora in America? Also what will be its effect on India-America relationship?
Let me say, that given Trump’s unfavorable ratings and my faith in the common sense and goodness of the American people overall, I can’t even imagine him coming to power.
Of course, like about 99% of people, I didn’t think he would become the presumptive nominee either. What I didn’t understand though as most people did not was that the Republican Party as we have known has been hijacked.
That can happen in primaries and affect the outcome. But, it can’t in the general election.
Having said that, any thing is possible – even the most improbable. What would Trump’s being in the White House mean for India-American relationship.
I think it would mean a great deal of uncertainty – not only for that relationship but on all fronts. In the one “major” foreign policy address that Trump has given to date, he stressed “America first” and a type of isolationism that dates back to the 20th century.
The one thing that I can predict with some certainty is that the concept of a “strategic partnership” between India and America that has been advanced by President Obama and Secretary would be highly unlikely.
How will American Muslims be effected by Trump’s election?
I don’t have a clue. And, because I don’t expect him to be elected, I have given it any thought. My instant reaction is that Muslims in America are more integrated economically, socially and culturally than in most of other non-Muslim advanced nations around the world and I don’t think this will change.
How will Trump’s election will his divisive ideology change the path of America’s journey?
I’ve already devoted too much speculation to what I consider an impossibility. So, let me change the course of the discussion.
The one thing that I believe will happen no matter whom is elected is that the voice of the people will become more important again in the country and in both parties. The 1% and large corporations have gained far too much power and influence over the past thirty years.
The average citizen is agitating for change and increased opportunity and less inequality. So, I think the politicians will respond by crafting more legislation that benefits them. I think this is a very necessary and good thing.
The opportunity to pursue the American dream regardless of ethnicity, color, creed or social class is what differentiates the United States from all other nations in the world. The American dream has been put at risk. This election cycle is a pivot point and a chance to renew that dream for the “average” American.
How will Hillary’s election affect India-America relationship?
Now, we are finally talking about something that is very likely.
Isn’t it amazing how Trump dominates media coverage whether it is in the United States or around the world? He’s a genius at stirring the pot and deriving the benefits.
What would Hillary’s election mean for the India America relationship? It would mean everything. Secretary Clinton is staunch ally and friend of India. I am certain that as President she would build on the solid foundation that she put in place with India as a United States Senator, Secretary of State and expand and enhance the agenda that the Obama administration has been implementing with India.
Specifically, I am confident that she will devote considerable attention to deepening economic cooperation between the United States and India; establishing collaborative initiatives and partnerships between the two countries in health care, higher education, and clean energy; and strengthening our defense and security cooperation.
In a phrase, when she is President, I believe that Hillary Clinton will make India an indispensable partner dedicated to making the United States, India and the world a much safer and saner place for all.