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Old 10-09-2010, 04:37 PM   #1
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Time for Indians to Think Independent

I've was doing some reading online about the Native American voting bloc and ran across this article. It was thought-provoking. Since we are closing in on another round of elections I thought I'd share it. (It was published in 2009; hence the intro).

We are only half way through 2009 and yet politicians across America are already gearing up for Election 2010.

In cities like Rapid City there are local elections for mayor, city council, school board, etc., already in their conclusive state. It seems that we live in a world of non-stop elections and politics.

The longevity of Election 2008 took its toll on many Americans. It started too early and ran too late, or so it seemed to the many fatigued voters out there. We are barely settling back into our easy chairs after that grueling election and we find that it is time to wake up and get involved in another.

Near the end of the 2008 race I wrote about the potential offered to Native American voters if they became an Independent. Statistics, and I hate statistics, now point out that the largest shift in party affiliation this year is the shift from the Republican and Democratic parties to the Independent party. So in this instance, statistics do bear me out.

It is true that the Democrats have taken the Native American voter for granted. They have taken this same stance with the Hispanic and African-American voter. Indians have voted the straight Democratic ticket since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1933, when Roosevelt was first elected President of the United States, the Nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. Because he stepped in with work programs that reached most of the Indian reservations (WPA and CCC) he was a familiar figure to most Native Americans.

But something else was happening that didn't ever register with white American voters. Only nine years had passed (1924) since Native Americans had been made citizens of the United States and given the right to vote. That is they could vote in every state of the Union except in New Mexico and Arizona, two states that did not completely accept the provisions of the Act that made Indians citizens of the United States. In those two states the governments decided that if an Indian lived on a reservation and did not pay property taxes, he or she was then ineligible to vote. I say he and she because women got the right to vote before Native Americans.

It would only follow then that Native Americans were simon-pure when it came to having knowledge about national elections. Before the presidential campaign of 1932, Indians had only had the opportunity to vote in one prior election since being granted citizenship. When Election Day rolled around they were immersed in the campaign slogans of the Democrats preaching the benefits of the New Deal. Anything "new" in those days was appealing to the Indian voters. Those Indians exercising their right to vote went unanimously for Roosevelt. And thus their acceptance and inclusion as members of the Democratic Party was complete. Roosevelt had promised them a New Deal and in 1934 Congress passed the Indian Re-Organization Act.

The assumption that all Indians are Democrats was emphasized when Indianz.com, in a comedic gesture, asked for the names of the "five" Indians who had voted Republican. I think they would have been surprised at the actual number of Indians that have left the Democratic Party.

I am no longer a Democrat. Goodness gracious, did I just swear? Did I take the name of the Almighty Democrats in vain? Well, you will have to excuse my audacity and ignorance, but I am now a dyed-in-the-wool Independent. I now have the freedom to listen to the political drivel from both major parties, weigh the differences, consult with my fellow Independents, and make a choice "independent" of the Democrats and Republicans. I believe this puts me into a more traditional position (Indian-wise) than those locked, lock, stock and barrel into either of the dominant political organizations.

There will be a lot of wooing coming from both parties trying to attract the Indian vote in 2010. The Indian vote was not that attractive 20 years ago. But since about the mid-1980s, both parties have discovered that in certain states, the Indian vote can be pivotal.

Just think how much harder the Democrats and the Republicans would have to work for that Indian vote if they did not assume it was automatically theirs. Each party would have to tailor their campaign in certain states directly toward the Indian voter. Now doesn't that give Indians much greater clout than if they were taken for granted?

The advantages of becoming an Independent are many and the detractions few. It is something I encourage all Native American voters to look into, to thoroughly research, and to openly consider. The 2010 Election is just around the corner, as elections go.


Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the publisher of Native Sun News.
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:15 PM   #2
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whome View Post

besides....

"my great, great, great grandfather was a part of the original tea party in boston...... But i can't prove it." ~ whome
lol!
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:25 PM   #4
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On a serious note, WhoMe, do you think people base too much of their vote on what party is listed after a candidate's name rather than on what the candidate's views on the issues are?

I found the author's premise intriguing, because he seems to say that natives voted for Roosevelt and that committed them to the Democrats from here on out.

If you follow that logic, then you'd think all Blacks would be Republican because Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

He has a point, though, that it is somewhat irritating to think of one's vote being a "given" just because of one's ethnicity.

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Old 10-11-2010, 01:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthofAda View Post
On a serious note, WhoMe, do you think people base too much of their vote on what party is listed after a candidate's name rather than on what the candidate's views on the issues are?
.

North,

I don't think there is a cut and dry answer to this.

The media is influential in the sense that they can and do sway public opinion. There is a certain segment of the public that follow the media and their coverage of daily concerns over party majority. In turn, some of this segment will vote along party lines due to their personal party affiliation.

More and more Americans are discontent with bipartisanship. This segment will vote on issues regardless of party affiliation. . .I am one of these types of voters.

I also vote for candidates that address Native issues and vote against those who are against them.
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Old 10-22-2010, 05:42 PM   #6
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The pure mathmatical reality is that there is not enough of us to make a statistical difference, so nobody tends to care. (There are millions more stay-at-home soccer moms, choosing only those who drive Volvos, then there are voting bloc Natives.)

What would be awesome is to have a reasonably good looking, semi intelligent, and somewhat educated Native -- who could appeal to folks who aren't just American Indian -- with a platform that makes sense and for whom votes might exist...

But such a guy wouldn't even be electible in Oklahoma, because any platform that makes strategic sense (for the bulk of contituents) would necessitate the passing of legislation that negates certain protectionist provisions for American Indians.

So, he'd immediately be disowned as Native.

Paging Joseph Heller...
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:12 PM   #7
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The pure mathmatical reality is that there is not enough of us to make a statistical difference, so nobody tends to care. (There are millions more stay-at-home soccer moms, choosing only those who drive Volvos, then there are voting bloc Natives.)

What would be awesome is to have a reasonably good looking, semi intelligent, and somewhat educated Native -- who could appeal to folks who aren't just American Indian -- with a platform that makes sense and for whom votes might exist...

But such a guy wouldn't even be electible in Oklahoma, because any platform that makes strategic sense (for the bulk of contituents) would necessitate the passing of legislation that negates certain protectionist provisions for American Indians.

So, he'd immediately be disowned as Native.

Paging Joseph Heller...
Which provisions in particular are you referring to, out of curiosity?

Someone with a solid platform would be awesome...but, I don't believe that the average American votes based on that. Politicians on both sides are often too eager to toss a "bone" to the electorate, something seemingly of value, in order to buy their vote. For some it doesn't take much.

I think the biggest problem with government today, across the board, is that getting elected comes down to dollars and cents. You could have great ideas, practical experience, street smarts, etc., but without financial support you go nowhere, at least on a national level. You either have to be personally well off, have great connections who are personally well off, or be able to get a financially generous group (union, PAC, etc.) to support you.

If I had could change one thing about the political machine as it stands I would impose a limit on how much money each candidate would be allowed to spend for their campaign. If everybody had an even playing field, then they'd have to run on their ideas. Just think how much less advertising based on "smear," rather than substance there would be if you knew you only had X dollars to spend.

It'll never happen, though. Money is still power, regardless of which party is in control.
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:23 PM   #8
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Which provisions in particular are you referring to, out of curiosity?
An obvious example?

If/when a bill passes for universal healthcare, why do we need IHS?
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:08 PM   #9
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An obvious example?

If/when a bill passes for universal healthcare, why do we need IHS?
Given that many have a very poor opinion of IHS, maybe that's a good thing, LOL!

Of course universal healthcare might turn out to be the NDN and non-NDN equivalent of IHS....

but that's a whole 'nother topic altogether.
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