NADER'S TWO-TIME RUNNING MATE BACKS JOHN KERRY
by Joe Shea
Ameriocan Reporter Correspondent
BRADENTON, Fla., Oct. 16, 2004 -- Presidential candidate Ralph Nader's 1996 and 2000 vice-presidential running mate, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, has dealt the 2004 Nader presidential campaign a cruel blow: LaDuke is endorsing Nader's rival, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry, she said Wednesday in Indian Country Today, the nation's top news magazine for Native Americans.
"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'm voting my conscience on Nov. 2; I'm voting for John Kerry," she said in an article published Oct. 13 in the magazine.
LaDuke, a member of the Ojibwe tribe from the White Earth reservation in White Earth, Minn., is program director of Honor the Earth, a national Native American environmental justice program.
"This does not mean that John Kerry will be a perfect leader," she said. "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," she wrote.
LaDuke also took a potshot at party activists who are trying to keep the Nader candidacy from the ballot in most states. Nader spelled defeat for Vice President Al Gore when he captured 90,000 votes in Florida in 2000 in a race that was decided by 500 votes and a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court barring a statewide recount.
This year, many Democrats fear Nader will again provide incumbent President George W. Bush with the margin of victory in many of the so-called "battleground" states. Most polls call the race a dead heat, wth Nader getting about 4 percent opf the vote and Sen. Kerry and President Bush 48 percent each.
Nader's campaign has been assisted in getting on the ballot in many states by Republican operatives who have been using his canddiacy to insulate the President from the Kerry updraft. That effort has been marred by substantial fraud in obtaining petition signatures for the Nader candidacy.
In another development on the voter fraud issue, it appeared on Friday that at least one Florida county sheriff was weighing charges against Republican activists who may have committed voter registration fraud, a felony, according to an Associated Press article that appeared in newspapers across the state on Friday.
But LaDuke defended Nader's candidacy despite her endorsement of Sen. Kerry.
"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," LaDuke wrote in the Indian Country Today article. "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."
LaDuke's article did not address the possibility that Nader might again defeat the presidential canddiate by his presence on the ballot. Most Green Party activists across the nation have also rejected the Nader candidacy, forcing the former consumer crusader to seek the nomination by telephone of the dwindling executive committeee of the Reform Party, which was started by conservative businessman Ross Perot and in 2000 fielded former White House speechwriter Patrick Buchanan.
"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," wrote LaDuke. "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."
The John Kerry platform "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," LaDuke said. "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," she said. "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," LaDuke wrote.
The article is accessible at http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096409685.
Winona LaDuke can be reached at email@example.com.