In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion on decolonization. If you are able to find anyone who can talk openly about this topic, you will see that a vast majority of people don’t agree totally with the three status choices. The bottom line is that there are really only two choices. Either Guam moves away from the United States or remains close and possibly gets closer.
We ask people all the time using several question formats, would you be willing to give up or trade your U.S. passport for some other passport? If we put that on a ballot, the answer would be nearly absolutely clear. The vast majority of voters here on Guam want to remain U.S. citizens under a U.S. passport. In fact, most people will laugh when you ask them this question.
That is how laughable the concept of giving up the U.S. passport is. While there is a very small and remote number who would say they prefer a GovGuam passport, this number in no way reflects the reality that our voters take pride in being U.S. citizens and patriots. Just like any other U.S. jurisdiction, we don’t view our relations with the federal government as perfect – but welcome to America.
As far as political status is concerned, what is the optimal status for Guam? We haven’t even begun to discuss these concerns because of the clutter of the evil political status law passed over 20 years ago. Now that this silly law is out the window thanks to the Guam District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, we can actually start talking. But wait, I know there has been a zombie-like attempt to resurrect this concern at the U.S. Supreme Court. While the undead can be scary, the sunshine of the truth will prevail. The Supreme Court has since denied GovGuam's request for an extension to file a request to appeal the 9th Circuit Appeals Court's ruling, the governor's office acknowledged Wednesday afternoon.
If you ask thoughtful and informed voters, the path of positive incremental improvement with federal relations is preferred. That is to say, voters want economic and social stability as well as the full faith and backing of the United States. In a number of areas, we could seek and address critical parts of federal policy that do not work well here. For example, we should get relief from the federal Earned Income Tax Credit policy. We have barely tried to do this to date. There are a number of other critical policies we could ask to have modified, but we have to grow up politically first.
As a first step, we should ask that the U.S. Congress put an amendment provision in the Guam Organic Act to allow us to adjust local government provisions specified in the Act. We can already do this in a number of areas. For example, we have short-sightedly opted for 15 senators rather than 21. I prefer 21 senators for a number of critical political reasons. We elect the attorney general. I prefer a governor-appointed AG. That way we won't miss Supreme Court deadlines mulling over what to do.
Ron McNinch teaches at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration and received the Guam Legislature's Distinguished Professor of Guam award.