By: Utsav Chakrabarti. September 08, 2022
The 2022 midterm elections are arguably the most consequential in setting the stage for the future of the American Hindu diaspora’s involvement in deciding elections.
To understand the Hindu community in America, one needs to look no further than the last presidential election. The wants and needs of American Hindus, an important voting bloc, have only intensified during this period with the lack of adequate representation. What this means is that people can anticipate a more historic American Hindu turnout this November than in any year past.
The earliest Hindu immigration to the United States was recorded in the 1600s. In 2018, it was estimated that there were 2.5 million Hindus in America. Today, it is believed there are close to 6 million Hindus in the U.S., accounting for about 2% of the total population. This figure is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.
As executive director of the Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective USA, I interact with lawmakers and everyday constituents to communicate what our community is seeking from our elected officials. Part of this includes my involvement in creating the Hindu Voter Guide. The 2022 Hindu Voter Guide will help voters determine the compatibility of each candidate with universal Hindu values and the candidates’ views on policies that are important to American Hindus. It serves as a tool to help constituents be more judicious in their selection of candidates.
As part of this, my team at HinduPACT and I have developed a series of questions over the last two years that address the concerns and hopes of the American Hindu communities and the expectations they have from their candidates. It also examines the intra-community dynamics, based on my interactions with hundreds of people in a cross-section of thought-leaders within the community. The questions cut across party lines and address the needs of Hindus who are registered with both the Democratic and Republican parties as well as unregistered constituents. HinduPACT is actively working to drive up the number of Hindu voter registrants.
As the largest and fastest-growing diaspora community, Hindus are becoming critical in deciding the elections in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia. The American Hindu vote has been more prominently on display during the last two election cycles and is expected to play an even bigger role in the midterm elections, particularly as the U.S.-India relationship is highlighted as tensions persist between America and China. Chief among things sought from American Hindu constituents is a candidate who will protect American Hindus’ constitutional and civil rights and honor their contributions across the U.S. Statistics show that over 80% of highly skilled immigrants who are eligible for green cards are Hindu. This is an important part of the workforce and should continue to be protected.
Another important facet that Hindu voters are seeking in their representatives is that they will ensure that textbooks and instructional materials that promote Hinduphobia and reflect misrepresentation of the Hindu faith in publicly funded school textbooks and educational materials are removed in consultation with American Hindu organizations.
Lastly, India is a strategic U.S. ally. Hindu voters are seeking candidates who will support India’s role in a new vision for the Indo-Pacific to counterterrorism and work toward replacing China with India as a global manufacturer and a key component in our supply chain so we can advance our shared security and economic interests in the region.
With this sizable population on the rise, it is important for incumbents and future legislators to pay close attention and appeal to the Hindu demographic. Their candidacy and victory may depend on it.
Utsav Chakrabarti is the executive director of HinduPACT, a nonprofit policy research initiative based in Washington, D.C.