Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been no shortage of political and media drama, which have become all too commonplace in our political system that with the passing of each day seems to resemble a poorly written reality TV show more and more.
The president and his supporters began to make headlines calling out Senator Elizabeth Warren, who recently hinted at ambitions for a presidential run, on her claims of Native American heritage. Many called her claims into question, even giving her the newly famous nickname “Pocahontas”. After several accusations that her claims were false the senator finally decided to accept the presidents challenge to submit to a DNA test to prove her native ancestry. The results came back according to Carlos Bustamante the prominent Stanford geneticist who led to the DNA study concluded, “The results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor” however, critics argue this only concludes that ancestor existed 6 to 10 generations ago meaning the presence of native ancestry may be as little as less than 1%.
Others have also noted the growing popularity of these claims in part due to gaming laws and in some cases even tribal casino dividends that have lured applicants for tribal status like moths to the flame. Some have even been quick to point out that DNA evidence alone does not present evidence of tribal heritage. This also relies on cultural, historical, and political identity factors as well. Kim Tallbear a Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe member and the University of Alberta Professor who has written extensively on the subject put it flatly when she told the New Scientist “People think that there’s a DNA test that can prove if somebody is Native American or not. There isn’t.”
But the real question here is not whether or not Senator Warren has the right to claim native heritage, but why it actually matters. It is irrelevant and serves only as a distraction to the real issues that face the United States. The National Debt is continually growing, and the stock markets are tumbling. The United States is continuing to wage undeclared wars all over Africa, and no one is even discussing it.
The media and it would seem the public is more interested in the dispute between a rich and powerful white man arguing with and a rich and powerful white woman over which one of them is “more white” and which one deserves to be richer and more powerful. It is no wonder that one from election cycle to the next that nothing changes in American politics. Republicans and Democrats are more interested in engaging in pointless culture wars and childish banter than they are in discussing issues and presenting solutions to real problems that face this country. It is no wonder so few Americans vote in elections and it will be no surprise if even fewer show up in 2020 if this is what they are to expect in the 2020 presidential debates.
The political conversation in this country has tragically devolved and sadly it is killing both the moderate and the independent as American voters cling to the two-party system that alienates us all.