Democrats take the stage this week in Philadelphia. Like the Republicans last week, a political convention represents a party’s best pitch to voters.
This is Trahant Reports.
The Democratic convention will be a stark contrast to the Republican event. This time around the positions of the two major parties could not be more different. It’s not just about Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump; it’s a debate about a range of policies from healthcare to climate change.
The Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The Democrats don’t.
Democrats want a climate change plan; Republicans don’t buy the science. Instead they favor more oil, gas, and coal development.
One thing you will see this week: There will be a large number of Native American delegates.
The Democrats’ platform also includes a significant section on Native American issues. Quote: “American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have always been sovereign, self-governing communities, and we affirm their inherent right to self-government as well as the unique government-to-government relationship they share with the United States.”
There are many other provisions, including strengthening tribal jurisdiction in the Violence Against Women Act.
Deborah Parker, a former vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes, served on the platform committee. Delegates will vote to approve a final platform. One Native voice, State Rep. Peggy Flanagan, representing St. Louis Park, Minnesota, will be a speaker at the convention. She is Ojibwa.
As this convention begins there are new questions about the primary process. A batch of stolen emails—the polite word is hacked—show that party leaders were working behind the scenes on behalf of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders.
This is exactly what Sanders and his supporters have been saying for months.
Two important points: First, this is an ideal moment to embrace election reform. Shake up the primary system, make it more fair and transparent. Second, I’d like to see Indian Country have its own primary election in the future. It would be the ideal, government to government vehicle, for Native people to have more of a say in the future of the country. I especially like the idea that America’s First Nations should go first.
However it happens, election reform is critical and it’s essential that people’s votes are counted fairly. There remain too many barriers to voting in many parts of this country. And that needs to be fixed. Both in the primary and especially in the November election.
Indian Country has done well during the past eight years under President Obama — so it’s important to find out how the next Democratic team will build on that legacy. How do we make the next four years, or eight, even better? That’s the question that will need an answer this week. I am Mark Trahant reporting.
Trahant Reports is brought to you by Kauffman & Associates, Inc., a Native American owned, woman-owned small business that has delivered innovative .solutions for government and commercial clients since 1990. KAI’s expertise spans diverse specialty areas, including public health, education, and economic development.