Steve Russell: Indian voters a voice for change

"Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton I administration, made a remark recently that bears serious consideration. We should not, Reich suggested, pick a presidential candidate by making a list of salient issues and ticking off positions one by one, finally settling on the candidate who agrees with us the most. All of the challenges facing the country this year are interrelated, and more important than any one of them is how a candidate is able to understand and explain those connections and deal with each problem in a way that does not make too many others worse.

Some Indians claim that only Indian issues matter in their feelings toward the presidential contest, but those Indians are few for a couple of reasons. First, Indian country is not exempt from economic downturns or global warming or the military misadventures that our people always wind up fighting in disproportionate numbers. Second, there are few enough policy wonks for what Robert Odawi Porter calls ''American Indian control policy'' that most candidates' positions could have been spit out of the same copier.

Reich says our troubles all fit together. My son just got back from Iraq, so the war has been worrying me, the war of choice in Iraq where the issue appears to be the identity of the proper Caliph at the time Mohammed ascended to heaven. This is the theological dispute between Sunni and Shi'a. I was raised to think, contrary to the Bush II administration and the debate in the Republican primaries, that the United States has no public policy on theological issues.

Everyone but a purblind Bush II sycophant knows it's about oil. As is the economic downturn about oil - both the rise in energy prices and the funding of the oil war on credit rather than by raising taxes like countries normally do when they fight a war. As is the global climate change problem. Our reliance on fossil fuels and the growing economies of China and India doing the same lead directly to the destruction of habitat that is ruining subsistence hunting for Inuit and Athabascan Indians."

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Steve Russell: Indians in a change election (Indian Country Today 2/1)

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