Monday, March 10, 2008

Why not McCain?

I've seen quite a few people pissed off that Clinton would suggest that McCain would be preferable to Obama (or words to that effect). I got to thinking about that, and I really don't have a problem with it.

In this election a great many people have narrowed this down to a one-issue election, with the one issue of course being Iraq. Fuck it, if there's going to be one issue, I'll choose my own: federal Indian policy. Back in the day, McCain used to be the chair of the Senate's Indian Affairs committee, before the Senate bigwigs decided it would be very progressive of them to install Ben Nighthorse Campbell into the spot. You know, because he's an Indian.

The problem I had with that move at the time was that McCain had been very effective at pushing legislation that was actually benefiting tribes, so I saw no reason to upset the apple cart simply because Campbell was Indian (the fact that he was a Republican, and therefore a sellout, probably contributed to my antipathy towards him). I think I was vindicated, in that Campbell was nowhere near as good for tribes as McCain had been in the same post.

Which brings me to my next point, which is that the best president in this century in terms of Indian policy was Nixon. Weird. But the reason Nixon was good was precisely the same reason McCain was good: both viewed big government as the main obstacle to progress in Indian policy. As an example, back in the early 90's a study showed that the average time to process a small business loan, through federal programs on reservations: 2 years, compared to approximately 48 hours in the rest of the world. McCain sponsored legislation designed to eliminate the pointless bureaucracy the made this abomination possible. Similarly, Nixon generally pushed block grant funding, which bypassed federal bureaucracy and made funds more accessible to tribes.

It appears to me that the politicians who provide the greatest benefit to tribes are small-government conservatives (who are not racists; that's an important caveat).

Here's Obama on Indian policy: "I may not have been in Washington long, but I have been there long enough to know that things in Washington must change," Obama said. "And nowhere is that more true than in national Indian policy."

Sounds good, but Obama has rolled out NO comprehensive Indian policy proposals. He supports "full funding" for the Indian Health Service, without telling us what that is. He says he will work to change federal law to fill "jurisdictional gaps" in Indian Country, without telling us what the hell that means. Depriving tribes of jurisdiction? We just don't know. He also says he will work to reform the Indian trust. How? What does that mean?

I go to Obama's page, and although apparently the need for change is nowhere more pronounced than in the area of federal Indian policy, there's no section devoted to Indian policy. No help there.

Bottom line though, if I'm voting for a single issue, why shouldn't I vote for McCain over Obama? He has a good track record.