Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama on the Indigenous

Even though I've commented quite a bit on the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama over the past few weeks, I am not ready just yet to make a full endorsement of him or his campaign.

Although for the sake of the Democratic Party I am hoping that tomorrow he'll emerge from the four primaries taking place, as the Democratic nominee.

Part of the reason that I'm holding off making an endorsement is that I'm still hoping that Senator Chris Dodd will jump back into the race at any moment, and become the new campaign insurgent. (just kidding).

One real part of the reason for my hesitancy to give my heart and soul to Barack Obama is the fact that alot of his support from white America is because of the shortcut in race thinking that he potentially represents. As I wrote last week in my post "Two Scandals: What Do Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds have to do with Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton," at some levels a vote for Obama doesn't just mean a vote to end racism, but it means a vote to end racism without dealing with the history of racial injustice in this country. Although history is being made in this election with either the election or selection as a viable candidate of the first white woman or black man, is history really being made or will anything be truly different, when the campaigns, the media and the voters are refusing to allow race or sex/gender to be a part of the discussion?

Another reason came up recently during the Ohio debate, when Barack Obama asserted emphatically to be a stalwart and tireless supporter of Israel. I know that no candidate could make it to the level of being a "viable" Presidential candidate without being a "tireless supporter" of Israel, but I had still hoped that Obama wouldn't be as hawkish as all the rest. Israel has for decades acted with incredible impunity in terms of its treatment of Palestinians, and recent actions show little hope for a change in their policy. This brutality and dehumanization could not continue if the "support" from the United States government was not always so unconditional and automatic. It is only because they can always count on every single President and nearly every single politician in the United States to grant them the right to defend themselves in whatever way they see fit.

Although Obama has sometimes clarified his support for Israel as not being unconditional, his rhetoric still leaves much to fear. But it is precisely this ambiguity in his rhetoric which leaves a lot of room to be concerned. A lot of his statements are vague about what he intends to do, and so when he is asserting the need for certain lifestyle or economic improvements, it is unclear what exactly he is committing himself to, if anything. It is very easy to get caught up in Obama's speeches because they are well written, and he delivers them better than Hilary or McCain ever could. But I am still mindful of the nuances he keeps in them, to make sure they are inspiring but not too specific. As he has noted, the specifics are not the true role of the President, but rather the ability to provide a vision which can mobilize people.

One last issue which worries me about Obama is his affinity to nuclear power and its lobby. But at the same time, I have high hopes for his $210 billion job and green jobs plan.

But as a conference in my department at UCSD will soon be taking place (just a few days) which has a heavy focus on the issues of indigenous people, it might be good for me to lay out, what exactly an Obama Presidency would mean for the indigenous peoples of the United States.

Last year it seemed like an Obama Presidency wouldn't mean much. According to the American Chronicle, a forum was held in August of 2007 where 150 Native American community leaders gathered together and invited all the Democratic Presidential candidates to attend. According to this article "Native Americans: Snubbed or Honored by Dems?" only three of the Presidential candidates attended, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel. As if to make up for the lack of Democratic candidate participation, Democratic National Party Chairman Howard Dean made an appearance.

Here are some other perspectives, and also the link for the Guam for Obama Group:

From Hawaiian Kingdom
Obama Would Sign Akaka Bill as President

From Brady Braves
Obama's Letter to First Americans

From Reznet News
"Two Words Obama Didn't Say: Native Americans."

From First Americans for Obama
"Obama Calls on Senate to Swiftly Pass Indian Health Care Bill"

From The Native Times
"Native American Times Endorses Barack Obama"

From La Chola
Open Letter to Senator/Presidential Candidate Barack Obama

From the accidental pundit
Native Americans for Obama in Wisconsin

From The Navajo Times
Obama campaign opens Shiprock office

From Docudharma
Clinton and Obama on Native American Issues

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