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Winona LaDuke Endorsement of John Kerry for President

by : Winona LaDuke
Monday November 1, 2004 - 16:25

By Winona LaDuke

I am voting for John Kerry this November. I love this land, and I know that we need to make drastic changes in Washington if we are going to protect our land and our communities. I am committed to transforming the American democracy so that it is reflective of the diversity of this country. I believe in a multi-party system and a multi-racial democracy. I believe there are many opinions, not simply two, that merit a hearing on any issue. I believe we should be working harder to increase the numbers of people of color, women, and Native people elected to office because we are this country and we are what America looks like. I’m voting my conscience on Nov. 2; I’m voting for John Kerry.

This does not mean that John Kerry will be a perfect leader. Nor does it mean that any of us should give Kerry a pass simply because he is a rational alternative to the most destructive administration in recent memory. But he has earned my support, even if the leaders of his party aren’t quite with the program. I regret that the Democratic Party is investing positive, grassroots energy in a campaign to deny ballot access to Ralph Nader - grassroots energy that is needed in these urgent times. I support wholeheartedly Ralph Nader’s right to run and be on the ballot in all states. In a true democracy, the right to be on the ballot in all states and the right to participate in the presidential debates would be guaranteed. That’s what democracy is. We must continue to work to make this ideal of democracy the reality in America.

For the past two elections, I’ve run for the office of vice president. Sometimes you run for vice president and sometimes you work on putting up wind towers. In either case, you are working to bring about a better future for your children. In 2004, I decided the direct action I could take to help put up wind towers in my community would be more effective at curbing global climate change than another run for office. On White Earth, Pine Ridge and on reservations throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, we are working to develop the wind resource on Native lands. And the electricity generation potential of the wind in Native communities represents about half of present U.S. installed electrical consumption. I believe we can combust ourselves to oblivion, or we can move to alternative energy. In the largest energy market in the world, your power supplier - particularly if you’re a junkie like America - impacts your democracy. I was proud of John Kerry when he called the $87 billion spent in Iraq a ’’Halliburton Slush Fund.’’ It is, and we need to recognize that. Now if we could only get Kerry to pledge to 25 percent development of the wind potential of Native communities during his first term in office we could really get excited.

John Kerry provides promise for Native America and for America. His policy proposals involve vision - like alternative energy, more accessible health care, and finding all those children who have been ’’left behind’’ by the Bush administration. Heck, Kerry can even say ’’sovereignty,’’ which is a far cry from Bush’s inability to pronounce the word. It is true that Kerry has not yet paid close enough attention to his base. But once in office, I know he will find himself and remember who we are. I’ve spoken with his staff and received some encouraging answers. He is more interested in solving than litigating the Indian Trust case. He wants to move federal policies to support Native communities, whether Native farmers, businesspeople or tribal governments. We are on his radar; this is a beginning.

Kerry offers other reasons for hope. He opposes converting Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste dump. He noted in the first debate that America cannot demand that other countries dispose of their nukes while we are busy engineering new ones. He should find the courage to say that a right to life extends to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women and children affected by our weapons. Kerry needs to make the rich pay their share, and end corporate welfare - I have heard some inklings of that. And while Kerry may be a diamond in the rough on issues like genetic modification, tribal budgets and building a more inclusive democracy, he has potential. And this is far more than what we can say for his opponent. By Nov. 2, 2004, John Kerry will have earned my vote.

Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe from the White Earth reservation, is program director of Honor the Earth, a national Native American environmental justice program. She served as the Green Party vice presidential candidate in the 1996 and 2000 elections. She can be reached at wlhonorearth@earthlink.net.

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