Complicit in Killing the Earth: Of Pepsi Challenges and Democrats and Republicans

By Gyasi Ross, Indian Country Today Media Network

A few months ago—right up until Election Day—many of our people messaged and pontificated like crazy to point out that there are serious and profound differences between the two political parties. This past election was presented as the ultimate Pepsi Challenge©; in a blind-folded taste test, Native people chose Barack Obama and Democrats 2 to 1!!

A few years ago, I was one of those people—I worked on the President’s campaign and honestly thought that we were entering a new generation of progressive politics, where Democrats moved back to respecting our people and the Earth.  But at that time, I didn’t get the punchline of the Pepsi Challenge, the fine print that we never hear on the commercials:

“Whichever you choose will still kill you.”

That is, whichever choice you make—Pepsi or Coke—both are horrible choices.  YES, one might taste better to you—you dig the spiciness of Coke or prefer to catch the wave of Pepsi.  Still, when you finish that refreshing can of pop, you’ve just ingested exactly the same high fructose corn syrup, brominated vegetable oils.  Both brands will kill your teeth, makes you fat, causxe erectile dysfunction, etc etc…No matter which one you choose, both Coke AND Pepsi do that.  Therefore, while one might be nominally better, they both kill you.

And just like pop kills Native people disproportionately, this Keystone XL pipeline will disproportionately affect Native sacred sites, unmarked Native grave sites, our aboriginal homelands.

We’re seeing that same scenario play out in politics with the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The party that is supposed to be pro-environment, the Democrats, are working hand-in-hand with the party that unabashedly loves scorching the Earth, the Republicans, to absolutely kill any possibility of yours and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren having a quality of life that even remotely approaches ours.

Make no mistake, our grandchildren are screwed if this thing goes through.  The Keystone XL pipeline and our dependence upon fossil fuels generally will ensure that.  Think Soylent Green. Think Children of Men.  Think Planet of the Apes, except with no talking apes (I don’t think). As we speak, the supposedly different Democrats and Republicans are conspiring together to kill the Earth, trample over Native burial grounds and sacred sites. In fairness, President Obama has noted that the Keystone XL pipeline is not a major job creator, and perhaps that will be a basis for rejecting this especially since some 68% of his voters disapprove of this project.

I hope so.

Still, as noted previously, the President effectively gave himself cover when the State Department rubber-stamped the environmental impact statement and said the pipeline would have “no significant impact to the environment,”

Pepsi and Coke will both kill us—there really is no choice.  Instead, we need to drink water, a radical choice, in order to live.  Similarly, we need to start earnestly looking for a radical option to the political parties that are killing us—the Green Party, Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke, help us please!! Funny, the things that get characterized as “radical” are the ones that will keep us alive.

We fell for the political Pepsi Challenge—God help us all.  God help our kids, Native and non-Native, even more—they’re gonna need it.

Contact your Senator — the information is here.  Tell them “no.”

Gyasi Ross
Blackfeet Nation
Twitter: @BigIndianGyasi