Tim Giago: Keep your presidential options open
A funny thing happened on the way to the primaries: I became bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Mostly bothered.

As I watched the Democratic National Committee play their little game over seating the delegates and counting the votes of Michigan and Florida I could feel those states sliding into the hands of the Republicans.

A committee does not bullwhip the voters that cast their ballots in all honesty expecting them to be counted and not expect some kind of repercussions. The Republicans I know were ecstatic to see Democrats punishing their own. “You can chalk up Michigan and Florida to John McCain,” said one Republican.

The one good thing that has come out of this year’s primary elections is that those of us living out here in the hinterlands of South Dakota get to cast our votes tomorrow knowing that for the first time in decades, they will make a difference.

The other good thing was that for the first time as far back as I can recall, a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, visited the Pine Ridge Reservation and actually stopped off in my hometown of Kyle, the heart of this large Indian reservation. The Clintons realized that the Indian vote could make the difference and Bill and Chelsea visited some of the other Indian reservations in the state. Barack Obama did not stop at any of the Indian reservations.

It bothers me to see several tribal presidents and chairman from across America endorsing presidential candidates, particularly if those candidates are United States Senators. There will be bills crossing their desks in the not too distant future that will have ramifications for the Indian people and I would assume that it is in the best interests of the tribal leaders not to alienate those senators. At this stage in Indian history tribal leaders need all of the friends they can muster in the House and the Senate because they certainly have very few on the United States Supreme Court.

I am also bothered by the processes that led to the way the primary elections are held. I think that a caucus is a terrible way to choose a candidate. I think an election that counts the votes of all of the electorates should be the order of the day. A vote should be cast in secret as was intended. It is too easy for voters to be intimidated in an open caucus.

Instead of divvying up the number of delegates by way of percentages I believe that it should be a winner take all process as it is in the Republican primaries. We would not be in a position of not having a nominee for the Democratic Party this late in the game if this procedure was the rule.

And I am really sick and tired of the talking heads on television interpreting for me what I have just witnessed. I can make up my own mind. Maybe I have been living in wonderland all of these years but I cannot recall a time in my political life when I was so disgusted with the way news anchors and reporters expressed such bias for any political candidate. People I used to admire as news analysts have lost not only my admiration but have earned my condemnation. And news networks I used to watch have lost my viewership and earned my disdain. Networks I never watched, Fox News for one, have proven to be much, much more objective than say MSNBC. The talking pundits on MSNBC have actually become cheerleaders for their favorite candidates. Fair and balanced? Let’s give that motto back to Fox News because it has truly earned it.

What about these so-called Super-delegates? Again, and perhaps I am really politically naïve, I have never heard of such a potent force that operates behind the curtains of Democratic politics. Why do we need these people? Once again it smacks of a voting bloc that would intercede and negate the will of the people based upon their own political choices. After all of the votes have been cast do these Super-delegates actually have the power to overrule my vote?

For those elected tribal leaders so eager to jump on political bandwagons, let me insert the name of John McCain here. Please recall that McCain served on the old Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs and spent many hours protecting the rights of the Indian people. When he resigned from that Committee he wrote an editorial for my then newspaper, Indian Country Today, to explain why he was resigning. Coming from a state with a very large Indian population, Arizona, McCain is acutely aware of the many problems in Indian country as he has witnessed them firsthand.

All I am saying is it is not wise to put all of your eggs in one basket because there are alternatives. I honestly hope that funnier things do not happen on the way to the General Elections in November.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association and the founder and publisher of Indian Country Today, The Lakota Times, and the Dakota/Lakota Journal. He can be reached at najournalist@msn.com or by writing him at P.O. Box 818, Rapid City, SD 57709.

More Tim Giago:
Tim Giago: Parallels in Texas and Indian Country (5/26)
Tim Giago: Time Magazine snubs Indians again (5/19)
Tim Giago: Role models for today's Indian youth (5/12)
Tim Giago: It's time for action on the Black Hills (5/5)
Tim Giago: How Native people feel about mascots (4/28)
Tim Giago: Indian health care a national tragedy (4/21)
Tim Giago: CBC goes after Cherokee Nation (4/14)
Tim Giago: Thirty years and 1,560 columns later... (4/7)
Tim Giago: Bury My Hertz at Wounded Knee (3/31)
Tim Giago: Indians lost in race relations debate (3/24)
Tim Giago: Disenfranchising the Oglala Lakota people (3/10)
Tim Giago: Paying tribute to Harold Iron Shield (2/27)
Tim Giago: No celebrating at Pine Ridge Reservation (2/25)
Tim Giago: Apology of no use for Native Americans (2/18)
Tim Giago: The education of Jerry Reynolds (2/11)
Tim Giago: In honor of Carole Anne Heart (2/4)
Tim Giago: Claiming Indian status to get ahead (1/28)
Tim Giago: Wounded Knee book a must read (1/21)
Tim Giago: Sen. Barack Obama and the 'R-Word' (1/14)
Tim Giago: The medicine of Michael Haney (1/7)