Race for president builds characters
Once again, we're treated to not just a campaign but a collision of myths.
McCain himself invokes Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Rider who, despite his New York origins, ranched in South Dakota and hunted throughout the West. Those who admire McCain tend to believe that it was men of this sort--rugged individualists, plain-spoken, straight-talking, self-sufficient men at home in nature (not in our effete cities)--who settled the West on their own. The myth discounts the immense role of the federal government in conquering the natives, seeing that the railroads were built, adjudicating disputes, arranging for water. No matter: Print the legend. In this image of the Old West, history belongs to the man who takes charge, the warrior in command who knows how to shoot and how to lead others to shoot as well.
Mythically, therefore, Obama is elusive, Protean, a shape-shifter who, when not beloved, arouses suspicion. Perhaps he is that object of envy and derision, a "celebrity," as the McCain campaign suggested, but he's also an egghead. He's the professor--but one who can sink the shot from beyond the three-point circle. He too has a sidekick, but, if you judge by their resumes, it is as if Robin has chosen Batman. One thing is clear: He is not a man of the ranch. Personifying a welter of archetypes, he thrills some, confounds others and jams circuits. Some people ask, "Who is this guy?"
So McCain is the macho man and Obama is the trickster? Despite Native respect for the military, it's clear which candidate is more of an Indian in spirit. No wonder most Indians are Democrats and favor Obama.
For more on the subject, see Hercules vs. Coyote: Native and Euro-American Beliefs.