Last week, I mentioned the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s adventures on the yellow brick road. I forgot to mention one other point. After the Good Witch of the North told Dorothy she could use the ruby slippers to return home, the scarecrow asked Glinda why she didn’t just tell this to Dorothy in the beginning. The Good Witch told him that Dorothy would not believe her. She had to find out for herself. As in all quest narratives, the experience of the journey was the message. In Guam’s case, the federal government didn’t veto this vote. The U.S. Justice Department ignored this concern for many years, and a private citizen had to fight it. Guam chose to pass a very odd political status law. It was pointed out repeatedly well before any court cases were filed that the law was flawed. As I have said before, if this is “for the United Nations,” ask the UN what it thinks of this race-based law before trying to further defend it. The international community is pretty clear on these kinds of concerns.
The best way Guam can reach a community consensus on political status is to hold an open vote at every election. Since it is symbolic, it has no effect. The voting process itself is the education process. It will likely only take two or three elections before disconnected leaders realize that the voting public values their U.S. citizenship and affiliation. If given a choice, people here would very likely prefer to move politically closer to the United States, not farther away.
Regarding group rights, there is nothing preventing any group here from organizing and expressing opinions on political status. Filipino organizations could express formal views or concerns. The government should not interfere with the association rights of these groups and the nongovernment organization model is well established. The problem for the CHamoru community is that there is no organization, consensus or leadership that genuinely represents this community. There is no agreement and many CHamoru voters on Guam resent activist behavior. They also appear to feel their interests are often misrepresented.
As I have mentioned in other articles, Guam will remain status quo until legal choices are made to move forward. On the policy level, I don’t think there is enough focus or consensus to do anything related to political status. Hating the courts for enforcing federal laws isn’t really doing anything.
There are any number of simple things leaders can do to improve communications with the federal government and make progress on a number of areas. First, we should make a simple list of federal laws that do not work well here and use this as a starting point. Second, Guam should revisit intermediate steps like a Guam constitution and commonwealth status. Since nothing is going to be done anyway, our government might as well try to be practical in the meantime. Third, the racial aspects of this now-defunct law need to be addressed. Our community is much better than this.