I've tried very hard to put to words the emotion of the last few days, but I give up. Maybe in the following days, but really, I haven't seen anyone that has put it to words yet, so I'm thinking it's impossible. Anything I've attempted just doesn't seem big enough.
Instead, I'm going to follow my future president's lead and knuckle down to work. Well, I'm going to get to work doing all the things that have gone to the side in my own neck of the woods (and for the non-Alaskans watching national news, you'll see our election isn't over yet) and I think his mind is on other matters.
But while he's making all his plans, I'm stealing a bit from Rachel Maddow and doing up my own "honey do" list. I'm not putting the obvious, like "health care" and "please stop the economic apocalypse." Some of these have been touched on, some of these haven't, some have only become really apparent in the last few days. There's a few local, mostly national, but I hope that in four years, most of these have been accomplished.
1. Pass the Indian Health Care Reauthorization Act
This Act has been stalled for 11 years - going on twelve! It is not an act many know - or really care - about, except for those it addresses. This act finally passed the senate this spring, but Bush has been threatening to veto it for awhile. It has to go through congress, and my hope is that President Obama will see it safely through. Native people across this country have truly horrible health care conditions, and they are in need of modern policies and laws.
2. Fix Head Start
I want to see No Child Left Behind abolished and general preschool/early childhood policies bettered, but I think fixing so much of what Bush did to Head Starts (hugely impacting to Indian Head Starts) is something that hasn't gotten quite as much attention. Head Start is proven to work (and we can argue that later, if you are so inclined) and it is in trouble.
3. Continue the grass roots candidacy to the grass roots presidency
Part of what Obama had going for him was this amazing organization of ordinary (and extraordinary) people. One of the things that impressed me so much when I went into the Obama campaign headquarters here was the organization and community of such huge things. I hope he'll keep his Web site, the interactiveness of it, the organization of the campaign, and develop new ways to keep people involved. My mother commented that this made her want to work for the government in some capacity - can you imagine that comment just three days ago? Although we can't (and shouldn't) all work for the government, in a country created "by the people, for the people, and of the people," we can all be involved. Meaning - don't let this just be a presidency of Washington D.C. - make it of the United States.
4. Keep the promises about Native American policy
This includes the top advisor appointments, really sitting down to talk with Native leaders and communities - and not just the superficial kind that so many predeccessors have tried. Talking frequently and about real issues. This is an easily ignored population because of the small numbers, but the hope and promises of the campaign MUST translate to action in the White House. This is the deal breaker - and the only thing that will keep me up at night until I see movement. I know, I know, it's only been about five seconds, but Native people across the country have only hopes to go on with this. There has never been a president that truly sought and achieved the best for the Native people, and Obama could make a first for this to. He already gave us a "shout out" in the acceptance speech, now some good appointments and policy!Which brings me to number five...
5. Appoint Gov. Tony Knowles to the Secretary of the Interior!!
Okay, this isn't really a deal breaker for me, but really guys, give Alaskans a chance to show the world that we don't only elect corruption and ineptitude. Gov. Knowles was a twice-elected democratic governor in an extremely republican state. He was very popular - still is - and as Secretary of the Interior (for Natives, this translates "overseeing the Bureau of Indian Affairs") he could have a major impact on Native issues. There was some division in his Native support at the end of his career (strong support for most of it), but I believe this was less because he "betrayed" anyone, and more because he was never a single-issue politician. He would make and EXCELLENT choice - trust me on this guys! As much of an embarassment as Palin was for Alaska, Knowles was and is a source of pride, as well as a smart and capable candidate for this position. The released short list for this position is excellent, but Knowles would be GREAT. PLEASE Mr. President, I beg you as an Alaskan wanting to redeem our state, give us this chance!
6. Get the puppy from a pound
Okay, not exactly a deal breaker either, but I heard this was an idea, and I hope it is true. In one fell swoop, you've made a statement for animal rescue and you've made your daughters happy! Two-fer! This actually underscores some hints at environment and animal policies Obama already made, something I hope he'll be a real leader on. Leading in both big and small ways will go a long way.
7. Be a leader in true care for our veteran's
Again, address the big and the small. I'm counting on Obama to end the Iraq war, but I'd also like to see more than just words about how good veteran's are. President Obama can be a leader in how they should be treated before deportment (their families, their education, their training), while they're serving a tour (big - funding for what they need, choosing quality defense leaders, seemingly smaller - encouraging "small" things like care packages and caring for families while they serve), and after they get back (health care - including behavioral health care, transition care)
8. Make healthy living for children not just a good idea, but a priority
This means making healthy food for schools affordable and popular, getting physical education pumped up, getting creative ideas to encourage "fun" again (including things like the WiiFit for kids, etc.), getting parents involved - basically help to make being active and healthy popular. Junk food marketing outspends government health education by something like 20 to 1 - the answer isn't always spend more, but clearly we can do something here.
9. Take a look at the Alaskan rural energy crisis
I know, this is something the state is supposed to look at, but our governor is NOT looking at it. She may be forced to soon, but we need some more pressure from the federal government, or rural Alaska is going to go down, and I don't mean in twenty years. There is already a village in Alaska in which all the resident were encouraged to move out due to them not being able to pay for the city energy bill - and our governor did nothing. Although this will probably mean something more in policies about energy all around, I encourage you to visit some of these places and get a real look at it. And that brings me to my number ten...
10. Come take a REAL look at Alaska!
Don't take Sarah Palin's word for it. Come and spend more than the few minutes most presidents have spent on their way to Japan or something. Take a look at ANWR for yourself, take a look at our villages, spend a good amount of time here. It is the only state Obama has not visited, and to be president of the whole country, I hope he remedies this soon. Palin has pumped herself up as an energy expert, yet has touted only the oil and gas part of it. Alaska has teh capabilities to address so many alternative energy options, we could be a leader in this. Unfortunately, we are not. Maybe we just need a presidential nudge?