After what must seem like ages to most Americans, there are only about 90 days left before the elections.
I cast my first vote for President of the United States when I voted for John F. Kennedy 48 years ago. Back then most Native Americans voted as Democrats. This harkens back to the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced the New Deal that brought jobs to the remote Indian reservations of America through the Civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA.
On many reservations, for the first time, roads, school houses, and bridges were constructed using many Indians from the reservations as labor. Indian men and women stood in line to get the jobs offered by these two programs. The fruits of that labor can still be seen on many Indian reservations. It was during the Great Depression and if you think America was suffering, you need to know that conditions were twice as bad in Indian country.
Back then, other than newspapers, the only means of communicating with the outside world (the world outside of the Indian reservations) was the radio. Many reservation residents listened to the fireside chats of President Roosevelt and it was the first time they ever heard a President of the United States speak, and the chats were so informal that it felt like Roosevelt was speaking directly to them.
Today we look at this particular presidential race as the most protracted race in memory. We are now approaching that point when the candidates are about ready to make their selections for their running mates and the contestants are starting to throw spitballs at each other. Don’t worry; those spitballs will soon turn into rocks.
Barack Obama has found it difficult to put separation between himself and John McCain. I think race has something to do with it and I believe that the subtle attacks by the McCain camp will make race a focal point and that they will turn over every rock looking for more slime to spread about Obama.
There are also overt attacks upon McCain for his age and I think that this just might alienate many of the older voters in America because they all know one thing for certain; all of us will age no matter our title or station in life. And don’t forget that it is the older voters who turn out consistently on Election Day.
My thoughts are that Obama should select Hillary Clinton as his running mate and John McCain should choose Colin Powell. The Clinton supporters are very stubborn and vocal and they are situated in states that Obama needs in order to win the election. How about Al Gore for the Czar of Energy? He would also be wise to make former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle the Secretary of the Interior. It would be the best thing that ever happened to Indian country.
On the other hand, if McCain were to choose Powell as his running mate he might be able to dilute the strong support Obama has in the African American community. This is no small matter. And don’t forget that Powell is also very popular in the more conservative factions of the Republican Party.
McCain has the albatross of George W. Bush hanging by a rope around his neck and the nearly 8 years of Republican shenanigans and incompetency. This does not count the total disregard of the Constitution of the United States under Bush. Most Americans are really tired of the same old same old and are dying to see a dramatic change in this country’s direction. How many more scandals can the Republicans endure by Election Day?
Whoever is elected as our next president will have a mess to clean up. He will be caught in the midst of two wars, a sinking economy, outlandish fuel prices and a deficit that is skyrocketing toward a trillion dollars. And what of the mortgage crisis that is getting worse by the day and the impact it will have on America’s financial institutions?
The healthcare crisis in America is traumatic. If Obama becomes president he should make the major duty of Vice President Clinton healthcare. If America does not do something to address the healthcare crisis everything else will fall by the wayside. Universal health care is a tough fit, but it could be the project of a lifetime for Sen. Clinton.
It was greed that brought about the healthcare dilemma and it was greed that pushed the cost of gasoline to an all-time high. It seems that greed has ruled America for the past 8 years and it is the little people that have felt the pain.
The next 90 days will fly by so it is time for all voters to get their ducks in line.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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