For the last two weeks, I have been talking about the way forward for Guam on the low-value policy concern of Guam’s political status. In general, Guam voters do not hold a very high regard for this concern and most members of the public simply ignore it. Politicians, on the other hand, tend to like the high-end travel and trappings related to this concern. Over the last 23 years of working closely with various Guam leaders, I think I have met fewer than five who really seemed to understand political status well. The rest were either faking it or too shallow in their views to actually make progress. I mention this point because a lot of the stilted language used by various folks is just nonsense.
The answers are apparent; our leaders simply don’t want to ask the right questions
Using a very basic method called content analysis, the shallowness or lack of genuineness related to political status really begins to show. It is like a broken record. One only has to listen for a few moments before the messages begin to repeat themselves. At some point, Guam voters are going to actually have to take actions on these silly ramblings. Our leaders need to lead on this concern, and that requires communicating. As I have said before, Guam leaders should simply ask the United Nations what it thinks of the wacky things going on here. I am not talking about people who just hang around the United Nations, I mean the actual U.N. leaders themselves. Along similar lines, Guam leaders could ask the U.S. Congress for an assessment of what steps can be taken to move forward. In both cases, no leader apparently wants the answers.
The people of Guam overwhelmingly favor one political status
At the center of Guam’s political status concern is an overall lack of capacity for Guam to effectively communicate with the federal government. After shifting the emphasis from political status improvement in the 1980s to the Marxist-centered decolonization approach, Guam simply lost its way. There are a large number of simple and practical approaches leaders here can use to promote dialogue and progress on political status with Washington, but I don’t really think that is the point of these efforts.
Instead of looking to improve the basic rights and life opportunities of average citizens, leaders have not reflected even a shadow of political reality for Guam. This is something I check on a regular basis.
About a month before the August 2018 primary elections, I had an opinion piece run in a local publication regarding the governor’s race. I said that the percentages had stabilized at 30-30-20-20. The final primary results were 32-31-21-14. Regarding political status choice, I have a lot more data, and it is overwhelmingly skewed in one direction. It is so skewed any rational voter can talk to a legitimate sample of friends or family members and likely get the same answers. The bottom line is that voters here do not hate America. They do not hate the U.S. military. So let’s vote.
Ron McNinch is a University of Guam associate professor, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching/Council for Advancement and Support of Education Professor of the Year for Guam in 1998 and was named Distinguished Professor of Guam by the 30th Guam Legislature.