The McCain-Murthy Connection

Justin Moyer from the Washington City Paper reports how a Kannadiga family - the Murthy's - hosted a McCain Super Saturday event. Leaving aside the question of whether it's McCain or Obama who ultimately becomes the president of the USA, one questions as to what it takes for Kannadigas right here in Karnataka to 'think politically' like the Murthy's in Virginia. It's high time Kannadigas realize that the best government for them is not going to materialize out of nowhere if they don't actively participate in the political process and continue to call it 'dirty'.

Naran Murthy, a McCain supporter from Sterling, Va., has agreed to let me attend his McCain Super Saturday event. It begins at 10:30 a.m., but Murthy says I can come any time after 9:30. I drive to Sterling, navigating Northern Virginia’s labyrinth of Interstates and toll roads under overcast skies. America stretches out infinitely in every direction, overwhelming in its sheer immensity. When I pull into Murthy’s development, the houses grow closer together. I knock on Murthy’s door at 9:45. He opens the door, and I shake the hand of a short, middle-aged Indian man and catch the heavy fried smell of Indian cooking. I remove my shoes and walk inside.

“We have a small house,” Murthy says with a heavy accent. “But it is good to have something.” Murthy lives in this town home with his mother, his sister, his youngest brother, and his wife, who offers me a cup of bitter tea. I sit in a chair and drink the tea. Murthy, 49, sits on the floor and stuffs campaign materials into bright orange folders. I ask Murthy about his involvement with the campaign—the recent recipient of a bachelor’s in business administration from Strayer University, he likes McCain’s position on taxes—but his mother sits down and dominates our conversation.

“Conservatism does not work in this century,” declares Shantha Murthy as she trims a gardenia in the window. “Hopefully this century will be more liberal than the last.” Murthy is jet-lagged—she has just returned from India to her job as a reference librarian at the Library of Congress. I ask her why, if she feels conservatives have failed, her household is hosting a McCain event. “I am doing it now because my children are all following him,” she says, but thinks those who surround the president wield more power than the president himself. “They call them presidents,” she says. “I call them kings…but it doesn’t matter who comes to the throne.” And suddenly, in this moment, I love Shantha Murthy—how she sets aside her own politics for her son’s, her dry dismissal of American exceptionalism, the way she enjoys her 70-minute commute by bus and Metro to and from the Library of Congress (“I sleep or read,” she says), the charming “That’s My Momma”–ish way she orders her daughter-in-law around in their native Kannada, and the torch she carries for her husband, who recently died of a stroke (“We were married only 53 years,” she says, blinking back tears).

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