I've been surprised at the number of people who have chosen Land Claims as the most important issue of the 24th district congressional campaign [in the poll you'll see over on the right hand side of the Take Back 24 Blog]. Living as I do on the western side of New York's 24th district, when I think of land claims, my mind immediately jumps to the Seneca-Cayugas, and not to the Oneida Nation. Even then, it's not high on my personal list - and I believe that a lot of 24th district residents are going to be displeased, no matter what kind of solution is reached.
Apparently, many people see this issue differently than I do, and believe that Land Claims are the most important issue of the campaign.
I'll allow that voters may be very interested in the Land Claims issue, and that it may affect their vote in a strong way. This morning, however, I want to ask the following question: Then what?
Let's say you vote for a candidate for Congress, and that candidate takes the action you want to resolve the Land Claims mess. Then what?
After that, if our last US Representative is any indication, you may have another 22 years of an incumbent to deal with. Those will probably be 22 years during which the Land Claims issue won't come up again.
What kind of choice is that?
The matter at hand isn't really the Land Claims issue itself, but discernment of short term problems and long term issues. Sometimes it's tricky to tell the difference. For example, one might conclude that the Iraq War is a short term problem. End the war, and the issue is over.
The thing is that the Iraq War is part of a much larger complex of issues: War and peace, budget priorities, energy policy, and international relations, for example. These are eternal issues. So, voting for a candidate on the basis of where that candidate stands on the Iraq War makes some sense to me, because the stand a candidate takes on this particular war is likely to reflect the candidate's attitude toward the enduring issues in general.
What larger, enduring issue is the Land Claim dispute a part of? Yes, there's the enduring issue of how Native Americans and the US government should relate to one another. But, once the local issues of the claims of the Seneca-Cayugas and Oneidas are settled, is this really the kind of issue that will continue to motivate voters in New York's 24th District?
Is there a bigger picture that I'm missing?