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 multiracial 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 email@example.com.