Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

 

img_0130-2

Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, and State Supt of Public Instruction Denise Juneau at an August debate in Frazer. (Trahant photo)

Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

Let’s start with the big picture. Donald Trump’s recorded revelation of felony intent — and yes, it’s that serious — ought to disqualify him from the presidency. There is no excuse. We are not talking about lewd behavior, consensual relationships, or being boorish. Trump said he can engage in criminal behavior. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he said. “You can do anything.”

In less than 24 hours we’re seeing Republicans disinvite Trump from events (as is the case with Paul Ryan) and others reverse their endorsement (as happened in Utah) along with calls for Trump to drop out of the race. This is unprecedented. And expected. We knew this was Donald J. Trump. This tape is only conformation.

Denise Juneau, who’s running for Montana’s only House seat, called on her opponent Rep. Ryan Zinke to withdraw his  endorsement of Trump. “Donald Trump has shown his complete disrespect for women since the beginning of his campaign, but that didn’t stop Congressman Zinke from backing him from day one,” Juneau said in a news release. “Just this week, Congressman Zinke laughed off Trump’s sexist behavior, calling him an ‘equal opportunity offender.’ I’m calling on Congressman Zinke to denounce Trump’s violent remarks, withdraw his endorsement, and apologize for joking about Trump’s consistently offensive language. Montana’s 500,000 mothers, daughters and sisters are watching.”

Watch this discourse play out in every congressional race in the country, including where five Native Americans are on ballots.

Of course most politicians will try to talk about something else. North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer would prefer to talk about energy policy. He sees himself as a key voice for a Trump energy policy. Cramer said this week that the Paris Agreement on climate change is “is unilaterally disarming the American economy at the behest of the world.” And that statement is exactly why he’s on the side of the Dakota Access Pipeline project and ready to roll over the sovereignty or legitimate concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux.

But how can any candidate now be legitimate when talking about Donald Trump? There is no energy policy for a disqualified presidential candidate.

Even before the Trump tape surfaced, Chase Iron Eyes in a debate was pressing Cramer about his views on women. “Today in my debate with Kevin Cramer I said we are creating a 21st century North Dakota; a North Dakota where women earn the same as men for the same work! Where women’s sovereignty over their own bodies must be respected,” Iron Eyes posted on Facebook. Audio of the debate his here.My perceptions of patriarchy are skewed but I have daughters and I was happy to be able to use the word patriarchy in a US Congressional debate, maybe the 1st time in ND history, for a man anyways. For Trump to even suggest or for a man to even ask or consider whether or not a woman should be “punished” for her own serious health care decisions, is conceptually repulsive.”

In Oklahoma, neither Rep. Tom Cole nor Markwayne Mullins have weighed in on the Trump tape yet. However in recent weeks, Cole called Trump  a work in progress. We will see if that is still the line after a few days.

In Washington state, Democrat Joe Pakootas immediately denounced the Trump tape. “As a husband, father & grandparent I am appalled & sickened by the vulgar comments spoken by my opponent’s presidential candidate Donald Trump about women today,” Pakootas posted on Facebook. “Most Americans are outraged & disgusted by this sick behavior. However, last night my opponent again expressed her unwavering support for Mr. Trump. It is beyond time for my opponent to demonstrate some moral courage & put integrity above party politics. I call upon her to stand up for women as a Christian & a leader & condemn this reprehensible behavior. He is not fit to be president & anyone who endorses a man like that does not deserve another term in the United States House of Representatives.”

That last sentence sums up the debate ahead.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

Reposting or reprinting this column? Please credit: Mark Trahant / TrahantReports.com

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: