Saturday morning I watched Michael Smerconish. He discussed Senator Elizabeth Warren’s allusion to her Native American ancestry. Apparently she received recognition at various times for her ancestry and that may or may not have advanced her academic career.
This is a quandry for many Americans who have been told tales of Native heritage. Most often it is not easily confirm able and the blood quantum is relatively low, 1/32nd or less. More importantly, most of these individuals have not participated in Native American culture – they have not lived the Indian way.
In fact the relationship between the Native American culture and modern America is generally not clearly understood. Modern Native American culture in many instances is focused on Native lands (and water), their enterprises, and various distinct tribal cultures. In my experience, tribal councils cherish their sovereignty and they are defined in U. S. law as nations.
I watch too much CNN. On cold Oregon days, it is reassuring to have noise in the background while I work on the computer. I do not see CNN as evil, but instead overly invested in urban, to a lesser extent suburban, eastern-establishment perspectives. They are definitely politically correct.
According to the CNN pundits, demographics defines policy priorities. Last Sunday, I heard on CNN, Democrats are giving up the working class white males and the rural white males. The conventional wisdom appears to be, they do not need these folks to win. These demographics were of some interest in the past, based on the Democrats legislative losses in 1996.
On CNN today, all the talk is about the President’s actions tomorrow regarding gun control. The campaign trail echoes this, with all the Democratic candidates for more gun control measures and all the Republicans against them. It is a perpetual impasse without an egress.
As with many fellow Americans in my demographic, we have come to not trust American governmental promises. We are wary that initiatives are maneuvers by politicos and true-believers. The effect is often felt to be adverse in rural towns and the countryside because we are NOT included in the background and assumptions.
The rural experience is that where the rubber meets the road, federal local policy administrators often act with indifference to the needs of rural people. They are focused in their cause, environmental or otherwise. The most difficult aspect is that there is little remedy to address the adverse actions, delay and indifference of the local, rural agents.
My most instructive experiences have been with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After nearly four decades in local government management, the most difficult and seemingly irresolvable issues were ESA based. The well-being and safety of rural communities were frustrated by endangered or threatened species. By the acts inflexibility and its unilateral administration in certain locates, I can also see how little the Democratic Party, the main sponsor of the legislation, cares for its rural people.
Firearms are another issue that is in a perpetual scrum of political division. It apparently is a gunfight where one side must win, while the other loses. Because the issue is pretty much divided 50/50 in the polls and the conventional wisdom is variously seen as banning guns or more guns, the ebb and flow of gun control and gun rights convinces many Americans that the actions are someone’s strategy to move for partisan gain.
The President must be under tremendous pressure, especially from the inner cities. There is too much violence and too little hope and there are few answers for the populations. In some rural communities, there is a similar dynamic from gangs though they are far from the CNN spotlight and, therefore, less understood.
The politics creates great pressure within the Democratic Party, for which there is no answer. As a default non-responsive executive actions are proposed in a framework of perpetual caveat that it will not stop the violence. For firearms actions, a de-minimus approach is presented to save one life, though there is no calculus to demonstrate it will not cost two lives because of the complication and overhead, folks cannot easily obtain the legal means to defend themselves.
I voted for the President last time because I felt closer to him as a community organizer than his opponent the rich, east-coast, corporate-bundler. I thought then that President Obama had worked to bring people together and there was not reasonable reciprocity among Republicans. I felt the President’s work on preventing the economic depression was outstanding and the Republicans were giving him little credit where credit was definitely due. Also, I was very familiar with some rural healthcare and its most depressing applications. The effort the President undertook to pass the ACA was positive and generally market based. It was a step in the right direction for the betterment of many demographics within the American people.
In terms of the issues I have outlined, I believe there are solutions that will serve all American demographics. Though within the current political frame they may be difficult, let me suggest a few because they would progressive initiatives:
To build a national understanding we should restart the draft. It does not have to be exclusively a military draft. Its purpose could be some form of National service, though undoubtedly it would have to be based on the War powers. Service could be with training for environmental or health work, or with traditional military service. The purpose should be to pull together Americans from many demographics to work together for America. We could improve training to enhance employment opportunities. It would potentially provide a second chance to many youth now lost to the system. In my impression, since the draft ended, we have grown apart and America has much less opportunities for all of its citizens from all of the demographics to meet and know each other.
The safety and economic needs of struggling rural, human populations must be established as a National priority. As a first step, we must evaluate laws for their impact on the economies of struggling human populations. For laws such as the Endangered Species Act which imperils vulnerable human populations, there should be a safety valve that permits flexibility and remedies balancing the protection of the species with the safety and economic improvement of the human populations. A small step forward would be to prohibit species from being warehoused. Instead there should be performance expectations where a species is listed for a period, say 5 years, and then to continue its listing, a new application would have to be filed. This would greatly improve accountability for the act’s implementation.
Guns are a “hot button” which defies an enduring consensus. The polls are divided on the matter. It is different than many issues because the right to own a gun is invested by our Constitution. My suggestion is that we do need an open National dialogue as opposed to National sales jobs regarding guns we often receive. The dialogue should be joined by those interested and not a spectator show located in Washington DC, New York City or some other distant venue. There are so many involved and distinct demographics have different perspectives. I read in the inner city, the only guns are held by the police or the gangster. In some rural areas there is not 24 hour law enforcement, so people must provide their own self-defense. We need to listen to each other over a fairly long period of time. We must find common ground. My expectation is that we will have to rethink our perceptions. I personally would like to see more community involvement, including government investment in firearms training to improve understanding through community based groups such as the BSA, 4-H, and CAP.
Regarding CNN, I would like to obtain an answer to one question. Who among the anchors have plowed a field, shot consistently in the 9 or 10 ring, risen on a cold night to check a sick calf, made a living from a crop or herd, lived beyond the reach of cell phones and always-on law enforcement and/or served an enlistment in the U.S. military in war or peace? I don’t know, just wondering because it would help me understand why they interpret the news the way they do.