Despite only making up 2% of the U.S. population, Indian Americans are notably making their voice heard on the U.S. political stage from the election of VP Kamala Harris to the five Indian-Americans represented in Congress. Hirsh V. Singh is part of a relatively small sect of South Asian politicians striving toward making a name for themselves on the Republican ballot. The New Jersey native declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election in July of last year earning a spot on the New Hampshire ballot. Although he withdrew from his candidacy in October, Singh’s interest in running for office represents a growing community of Indian Americans eager for change despite being part of a minority group.
Despite studying engineering while at NJIT, Singh was also actively involved in politics at his university, attending anti-war protests and marches outside of the UN. While living in Washington D.C post-graduation, Singh would spend his free time hosting debate watch parties with his friends who worked in politics. The budding politician is not unfamiliar with politics, as he ran for governor of New Jersey in 2017 and US Senate in 2020 coming within 1% of winning the Republican primary.
Although running for the highest office in the United States is a huge step from running for governor, the former candidate believes that anyone should have the opportunity to represent the community they care about.
“People should be able to come from any background and represent the people that they take care of,” says Singh.
But ultimately his decision to run for president of the United States stems from his desire to better represent his nation. Singh believes most of America’s politicians are from a bygone era.
“How can they understand what’s going on with the latest technology, the list of trends, or even rectify these extremist kinds of concepts that are being understood at the ground level,” says Singh. “Whether it’s LGBTQ aspects or trans issues. It’s really sad that America is represented by someone who is not capable of presenting us the way we should be presented.”
For Singh, the Democrat party does not best represent what America needs. According to him, Democratic politics is machine politics, and “if you don’t do what the machine says, you get gutted.”
“It’s a simple method of control, divide and conquer, as long as you can get one group of people blaming their problems on another group of people, those in power are able to come out on top,” says Singh.
Running as a Republican despite being Indian American is not unheard of. 2024 Presidential candidates, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy are also garnering attention for their conservative values despite the Republican party’s restrictive immigration policies and white supremacist backers. About 29% of Indian Americans who are registered to vote to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, according to Pew Research Center, which did not parse out the data for voters from other South Asian countries.
“The South Asian community is actually very naturally conservative. That’s why we’re business-minded,” says Singh. “That’s why we’re family-minded. Depending on religion, it tends to be a good foundational element in our community. So the shock is that most of our community is not outright Republican. There is no US congressman or US Senator that is of South Asian descent in the entire country that is a conservative or Republican.”
Singh’s vision for the country includes bridging the increasing polarization within party lines. He claims there was a time when people didn’t care if you were a Democrat or a Republican.
“A generation ago, it was just your flavor and this is our flavor, but it was always, you know, the United States of America, where we are right now,” says Singh. “It’s kind of lost, that everyone is being vilified, no matter what position you’re in.”
With Donald Trump battling legal cases, no one knows who the Republican nominee will be. Hirsh Singh’s interest in running for president peaked when he realized that there weren’t many candidates that could garner the same support Trump had in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
“If they actually successfully take President Trump out of the running with all the legal cases that are there, who else was actually running, who has the ability to attract those that have supported President Trump,” says Singh. “Ron DeSantis would never have gotten any of their support, because he only won his gubernatorial primary and then his general election with the endorsement of President Trump. He and Nikki Haley have been disloyal to President Trump and would never get the bases support” said Singh
Once Singh felt President Trump was going to overcome the legal cases, he dropped out of the race and endorsed President Trump. For now, the Republican vote is up for grabs. Since dropping out of the race, Singh has been focusing on his family and making sure his wife has all the support she needs while completing her doctorate.
“My head right now, it’s about family,” says Singh. “I want to see what’s going to happen at the presidential level. Trump’s victory in Iowa is huge and he will take it all the way unless the system cheats the American people.”