February 11, 2009

Separate electors for Natives?

Mark Charles (Navajo) talks about the reaction to his idea of creating a 51st (virtual) Native state.

Mark Charles:  The next steps for a 51st Native state“This is a good idea, but…

…it will never happen.” My article on the creation of a virtual Native American State has been out in the public realm for a few months now, and I have been doing my best to follow the conversations and dialogues that have sprouted up, not only on my blog, but on other blogs, talk shows and articles around the country. If I had to summarize the responses, I would say that the majority of voices ring with a very similar sentiment. "This is a good idea, but…” Of course, there have also been other voices. Some have decried the idea, saying they have no desire to become a larger part of this country and its oppressive government. Others have pointed at this as another way to rob our peoples of the identity and sovereignty we have been fighting for. And still others have snidely commented that this proposal would put an end to the gravy train of free handouts that our Native American tribes receive from Uncle Sam. But a vast majority of the voices I have heard have stated in one form or another that “this is a good idea, but…"
Then there are nattering nabobs of negativism like me. I.e., people who say, "This is a bad idea. It can't work and it'll never happen. It may be worth discussing once, to broach the issue of increasing Native clout, but any more than that is a waste of time."The next steps will come. I am not sure how to deal with all of the complexities that arise from the creation of a new state. And I trust that the Creator will both grant and bring wisdom into the discussion as it progresses. But for the moment, I would like to focus on this first step. Let us create a voice for our Native American peoples by allowing us to choose our own electors as we vote for the office of the President and the Vice-President.

I propose that an amendment to the Unites States Constitution be formally introduced that will grant Native Americans, who are registered members of tribes, to collectively choose our own electors for the election of the United States President and Vice-President.
The next steps will not come, since this proposal will never happen.

Charles seems to think it's relatively easy to amend the Constitution. Does he remember what happened to the Equal Rights Amendment? If something that innocuous can get shot down, don't bet on anything more controversial getting passed.

Here's the first question people would ask: How exactly would this amendment work? Would Indians get to vote twice: for their states' electors and their own electors? Because that will never happen. Or would Indians be subtracted from the states' voter rolls, reducing the clout of any state with a significant Native population? Because that will never happen either.

To reiterate, no state will vote for an amendment that gives Indians double the voting power of non-Indians. And no state will vote for an amendment that reduces the number of electors it gets. So Charles's "first step" proposal is dead on arrival. Next?

For more on the subject, see Outlandish Ideas for Native Clout.

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