Indian Country holds the Balance of Power this election

Obama gets my Vote!

By Paul DeMain
Editor News From Indian Country

Each election cycle, I find the interest and attention of, and at Indian Country becoming more important in the political process. We are getting very well at getting involved in the politics of politics.

Twenty-five years ago you could find few American Indians either involved or interested in the process and now you find us active from Washington, D.C. to the chapter houses of the Navajo Nation.

We are positioned in just the right place this election round, and the increase of visiting candidates should multiply with time right thru the November General Election. We count because we hold no majority in the right, or the left of the political spectrum. We count because we hold no majority between a candidate of color, or one with a particular gender.

We count, and we count more importantly than any other huge collection of voters because we represent the margin of victory between two competing camps of thought. And that position has always been the most important. It's called the balance of power.

With the realization that the Native community, while small, hold the balance of power between party candidates and political parties, the eventual power of Native communities has been enhanced way beyond the bodies we can send to the polls, and therefore, our ability to access and impact political and legislative policy.

Having some gaming revenues to pledge support various candidates and policies does not hurt, but ultimately, it is bodies at the caucuses, primaries and general election booth, that will count.

In the up-coming weeks, starting on Feb. 5, the primaries take on the prospect of naming the front runners in both the Republican and Democratic parties. National polls show Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a statistical tie for the Democratic nomination. Hypothetically, 49% to Clinton, 49% to Obama with 2% the toss up. Or hypothetically 490 votes to Clinton, and 490 votes to Obama, with twenty Rez Indians wondering which way to cast their vote.

That is the balance of power. 11 votes one way, and 9 the other, make all the difference.

I can’t predict what the final outcome of the next election cycle will be. But I fall well within the characterization of being one of those lefty Liiiiberals. Not only have I almost universally supported the Democrats, (other than running the Vice Presidential campaign of the Nader/LaDuke Green Party in 2000), but I have usually chosen the underdogs. Those have included candidates of color, youthful candidates with new ideas, those without millions in their back-pocket bank accounts, and those whose voice has had the smallest platform. Most of them have lost, but I was in good company.

If I was a Republican I would lean towards McCain simply because he has had a good Native policy record and despite his support of the war in Iraq now, under a McCain administration I don't think we would have gone to war against Iraq without first finishing the first war Bush got us into in Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. Certainly not without a force that was ready to do the job correctly, when we first arrived almost a decade ago. I have found in looking at history, that some of our greatest Peace Chiefs, became that, only after the dreadful experience of waging a costly and deadly war and being decorated and recognized because of it.

It looks like it is shaping up to be a McCain vs Romney race on that side of the political spectrum.

But on the Democratic ticket, I sat on the fence, hoping to judge the potential of a second Clinton presidency without the preconceived bias of having remembered the previous DNC donation scandal that nixed a small casino in northern Wisconsin because of monied politics and tracks of high pressure tribal politics with cash flowing toward Washington, D.C. But it keeps coming back to mind. Hillary Clinton has tapped a small cadre of donors who made large contributions to her campaign. Obama has tapped millions of grass roots low level contributors for small amounts, over-coming the political establishment's predictable - party choice.

When I make my donation, it will mean that the fuel bill balance will remain at $25 for a least another month.

Hillary will still make a better president than a Republican, as long as her husband lets her fight her own battles. But I will support her, if she wins the Democratic nomination. We are about two hundred years over-due for having either a woman, or person of color as President. Sorry John, we gave you white guys (or to be politically correct, male Caucasians) two centuries to get it right, stand aside.

I lean anti-establishment, new ideas, new character and the chance to return to some real ethics, and Obama will get my vote in the up-coming primary.

He of anyone, understands what it is to be an underdog of color, to experience the sting of racism and to overcome the prejudice of our society, just like us. But its not just an issue of race, it is about picking the candidate that inspires the best chance of hope, change and diplomatic brilliance on behalf of justice, world peace and human dignity.

We hold the "balance of power."