Steve Russell: Unpopular politicians represent splintered parties

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. Photo from Facebook

Donald Trump is about to claim the Republican party's nomination while Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton continue to fight over the Democratic prize. Where does Indian Country stand as the race continues? Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, offers some thoughts:
The status of American Indians in the constitutional order is a difficult political science question with every decision point fraught with an awful history of theft and homicide. It’s not easy for experts in the field. Even experts in the field who are Indians. Because we have not been a reliable voting bloc, US politicians outside of Indian country don’t even wade into that theoretical swamp.

We laughed at George W. Bush’s remark that “state law reigns supreme” in Indian affairs as a failure to read the Constitution, but Bush’s remark was not all that much out of the mainstream. Nor was his walking it back when somebody explained the Indian Commerce Clause to him. We are not organized well enough to be a big deal outside of a few districts.

Indians are not monolithic in the voting booth or anywhere else, but only one faction I can identify can consider voting for Trump. The faction that believes voting in the colonial elections is an act in derogation of tribal sovereignty is politically neutered by their 17th century understanding of sovereignty, but the faction that believes tribal governments are hopelessly corrupt and staffed by so many self-seeking incompetent drones that they are better abolished have their candidate in Trump. The rest of us have no choice but to vote for whomever the Democrats put up.

Constrained by history, we are watching from the cheap seats as both parties splinter in a manner that would be no big deal in a parliamentary system but is a very big deal when there are only two parties and both of them are facing a revolt from below.

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Steve Russell: The Revolution Will be Televised (Indian Country Today 5/19)

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