Opinion: Base your vote on character, not color
"We come from different backgrounds and have different views, but we have similar goals. As Indian people, we come together to understand each other to address and solve the terrible conditions on some of our reservations. We seek consensus on how to proceed. This is what our forefathers did within the Iroquois confederacy and what the All Indian Pueblo Council did in New Mexico. It is also what the colonies did in Philadelphia in 1776.

We still have people encouraging others to vote for or against people based on their race, color or gender instead of their character and what they can do for America. I am surprised when activists believe all members of any ethnic group or race should think the same way and vote the same way. Those that don't think and vote as they ''are suppose to'' are told they ''just don't get it'' or ''don't understand'' or aren't really ''black enough.''

How irrelevant this is. If I vote, or don't vote, for Barack Obama or any other candidate, it won't be because of the color or perceived color of his skin. It will be because of his ability to address terrorism, health care, education, the economy, illegal immigration, energy, and the issues that Americans face. My vote will go to the person of character with conviction.

We're all for education and the environment and all against terrorism, so the devil will be in the details of the candidates' positions. How will he continue keeping terrorists from bringing their violence to American soil? What policies will the candidate promote that will sustain our economic growth? Will the candidate support the Patriot Act? Will the candidate address the persons in this country illegally? Will we get true health care or will it be another Hillary fiasco? Will we get a better plan for Social Security than President Bush's? Will the candidate support the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act or is there a better idea? Will we work toward a colorblind society or go back to quotas? I want to know how their words will translate into a better life for all Americans, or if they are just posturing for political purposes.

Don't let anyone tell you that you are not ''Indian enough'' or ''black enough.'' Let's not confuse the fringe with the mainstream. All Indian people do not think the same. Neither America nor Indian country is a society where human beings are reduced to identical units. When deciding your next vote, take a stand and support what is good for all America and all Americans."

Get the Story:
Ron Toya: Vote for character, not color (Indian Country Today 3/23)

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Ron Toya: Big bad Bush has done lots for Natives (12/8)
Column: Young Natives wrong to challenge 'Redskins' (08/31)
Opinion: Tribes must consider all political parties (07/28)