Over the last several weeks, I have been doing a number of thought experiments on how this 2020 elections on Guam will be different. Thought experiments are a way of giving in-depth thought and speculation on a given topic, particularly when it is hard to find information by other means. Albert Einstein’s best work on relativity was often the product of thought experiments. For example, as a youth he imagined what it would be like to chase a beam of light. Einstein also studied Brownian Motion, which applies to how objects might interact randomly.
In the last three months, my thought experiments have centered on a number of interesting questions. Here are a few examples: Will the corononavirus help make our government work better? Will voting behavior be affected by the conditions created by the virus? Will incumbents need to campaign differently? Will the coronavirus affect the 2022 elections? Will the economy recover and how will this affect the government? There are a lot of questions that can be asked and it is often a good way to think about things.
In general terms, conflict or crisis can create opportunities. Given the COVID-19 crisis, will the government work better in the future? Will teleworking optimize government work? In the future, will employees not call in sick because they will be able to work from home? There are quite a number of angles to this question, but in general, our government could end up working better.
Regarding voting behavior, the big question is, will voters turn out for the election at traditional levels? Will certain groups of voters show up in higher or lower rates? Will voters blame candidates for the COVID-19 response? Are Democrats running for office distancing themselves from the governor because of the pandemic?
Will those currently in office be able to simply coast to Election Day without really campaigning? Will there be a surge in campaigning in October? Does campaigning matter very much? Do public hearings give the senators a home-court advantage because of the limited options caused by the stay-at-home order? All of these are factors to consider.
Will the delegate race need a runoff? Because there are three candidates, it is likely, but it is still not certain. Will the delegate race help the Republican senators in the general election? Will Republicans vote more as a block this election year?
In two years, we will have another election for governor. Will the pandemic affect the 2022 election? Will the economy return to normal or even be better after this pandemic? For example, will we have more Japanese tourists in the future? Will there be a fear of travel to the U.S. mainland and will Guam benefit?
There is a lot to think about and it can be fun to speculate on these things. With elections, we will know the results. So we will know the answers to our questions eventually. In life, there are very few opportunities to see projected realities unfold.
Ron McNinch teaches at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration.