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Op-Ed: A One-Time Gift from Biden Led Native Americans to Vote Red – But What Now?

The 2022 midterms slow-walked a few more Republicans into the House, impressing upon the DNC and RNC that significant changes must happen to win over the votes of a still-divided country. Democrats promised abortion, extensions to the pandemic response, and (unconstitutional) tuition debt forgiveness, all packaged and sold to you by their allies, the establishment media. Republicans promised an end to the culture war chaos and a return to domestic energy and reminded you that President Joe Biden’s policies brought record-breaking inflation, an open southern border, a free flow of fentanyl, high gas prices and dragged us into footing the bill for a new foreign war. On Nov. 8, the GOP saw a continued increase in support from minorities, including significant increases in the black community and more from the Latino community. Compared to the 2018 midterms, Hispanic and Asian support for the GOP jumped 10 and 17 points, respectively, while black voters shifted about 4 points to the right. In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee says 28 black candidates made it through the nomination process this election season, with 80 at the start. A Wary Glance Into the Republican Party from Native Voters We saw some interesting data. There was a slight decrease in the Democratic vote percentage among Native Americans compared to 2020 (-4 percent) and 2018 (-5 percent). Maybe indigenous communities want an end to the woke madness and appreciated the call for schools to reopen from the Republican Party. Perhaps news in 2020 that President Donald Trump actually improved his standing with black voters over four years ago made it OK to vote Republican. There was a palpable difference felt in our wallets once the Biden-Harris administration took over. Rural tribal communities are experiencing the severest effects of inflation; sixty-nine percent of Native American households say recent price increases have caused them serious financial problems. We are facing gas price increases due to limiting domestic production and expensive groceries due to a broken supply chain. That makes a round trip to reservation border towns (Gallup, New Mexico, or Rapid City, South Dakota) for supplies just that much more expensive. Under Biden, we are witnessing in real time land being stolen under the guise of climate change. Lack of tribal consultation has ceded 400,000 acres in Colorado, 950,000 acres in New Mexico, and 1.36 million acres in Utah, putting them in the government’s hands. And now the next generation is at risk because we agreed to force-feed them endless vaccine boosters and microplastics from years of wearing disposable masks just for a few stimulus checks. Activists have festered an anti-police movement on our reservation boundaries, making it harder to provide safe communities and combat the MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) crisis. Unfortunately, this activist-to-Democrat relationship has also led tribal leaders to push abortion culture in their communities, calling it sacred or modifying our timeless creation stories to accommodate liberal talking points. I’m never sure why tribal leaders or tribal councils side with Democrats. Maybe it is the shared bureaucratic group think. Republicans want to empower the individual and reduce redundancies. Democrats over-promise and say they will “take care of us.” That’s when the tribal leaders take their hands off the wheel and let the feds drive. Republicans want local leadership to drive. Who would you throw the keys to if you lived on the reservation? Republicans have a long-standing history of wins for native people. Trump brought the MMIW issue to the Oval Office, federally recognized more tribes, put Indian law expert Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and more. Bush I and II proclaimed National Native American Heritage Month and Day, respectively, Nixon gave us the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, and Coolidge and a Republican Congress provided Native Americans the right to vote. Republicans can continue to make inroads with Native Americans by making the pro-life agenda a priority, especially with tribal citizens facing low birth rates. In 2020, the non-native community gave birth to 3,468,650 babies, compared to American Indian communities giving birth to only 26,813 babies. With such a fragile population, we cannot encourage no-limit abortion in our tribal communities. We are seeing parents, momma bears and fathers gravitating to the GOP, and we certainly have room for native parents. And a higher population means more voters — which is a good thing! This past midterm, I saw excellent movement and acknowledgment of the native community by local Republicans on the ground, but not much from the RNC. Although I have presented many plans, I am unsure that the RNC knows what to do with Native American voters. For many, it simply starts with a hello. I have to admit that the DNC has a good ground game for indigenous outreach in Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington state. I would mention New Mexico, but it is a lost cause, and its economy is far too reliant on federal government services. I do not see that changing anytime soon. Thanks to Kari Lake’s field director, Matthew Martinez, I saw excellent ground game strategies and grassroots efforts in Arizona for the native community through the deployment of over 30 coalitions. As I made tribal leader introductions for Lake, Blake Masters and Abraham Hamadeh, it was invigorating to hear Republican candidates speak so articulately about tribal policy issues — from respecting time-immemorial sovereignty to water rights and working to preserve the Indian Child Welfare Act. Moreover, the candidates were eager to learn, listen and collaborate with tribes. Speaking of Kari Lake, she is continuing her fight to be Arizona’s next governor. With 130,401 native people living in Maricopa County, is it possible the native vote was also disenfranchised and suppressed on Election Day? Nationally, we saw some great numbers from the state-recognized Lumbee Nation. The results in Robeson County, once a Democratic stronghold, went to the GOP with Republican Jarrod Lowery, also Lumbee, winning nearly 61 percent of the vote. A flip is possible because you have candidates who are not bashful about being Republican and are willing to fight for their community. You also have campaign managers who are not ignoring Native American houses, listening to non-party-affiliated and independent voters, and enlisting volunteers who know a handshake and a good conversation go a long way. I hope the RNC is listening this time and will provide some meaningful outreach to tribal nations, rural and urban, for 2024. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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