As your readers surely know, Guam residents cannot vote for the president of the United States and have just one non-voting delegate in Congress. This effectively silences the people of Guam in matters of national affairs by shutting us out of the democratic process. While the nation’s laws apply to us, we have almost no avenues to help shape those laws.
Meanwhile, far too many Guam residents are unaware that they, as individuals, possess the right to vote in Guam’s Democratic caucus. This is a small, yet important method to influence the ideas, values, and priorities of candidates and the Democratic Party’s 2020 platform, which go on to help engineer the shape of our society.
At this point in the process, it’s abundantly clear that former Vice President Joe Biden will receive the Democratic Party’s nomination. So why should Guam’s Democrats bother to vote in this Saturday’s Democratic caucus?
It’s often overlooked, but primary/caucus voters determine more than a jurisdiction’s preferred presidential candidate. Voters are also selecting people from their community to serve as “pledged delegates” at their party’s national convention. Those delegates attend the convention, in part, to help write the party’s official national platform: a formally adopted document that serves as a sort of vision statement to outline the political goals, positions, and shared values of the party and its candidates as they embark on national and local campaigns. At national conventions, the pledged delegates advocate for key parts of their preferred candidate’s proposals and agenda which they feel will bring the larger party into alignment with the desires and demands of voters in their home jurisdiction. Once adopted, a party’s national platform helps guide its elected members’ future legislation and shows which issues a party prioritizes.
Let your voice be heard
This August, Guam will send seven delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Those delegates will be selected by Guam Democrats this Saturday, June 6. If you’re a registered voter and Guam resident who considers themself a Democrat – or would like to be even just for this election year, given the grim prospect of another Trump administration – I encourage you to vote in the caucus so you can let your voice be heard, help select this year’s pledged delegates from Guam to influence the official 2020 Democratic Party platform. If you’re not currently registered to vote, no worries – it’s fast and easy to register on-site with a valid photo ID.
Furthermore, I encourage Guam Democrats to cast a vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders and the good people running as his pledged delegates. This is not to prevent Biden from receiving the Democratic Party’s nomination. Rather, it’s to show the Party’s power brokers just how many voters still want and demand a more progressive agenda than what Biden is advocating for. The goal is to pressure Biden and the Democratic Party as a whole into adopting a more progressive platform that addresses issues that can no longer be ignored or delayed. This is an opportunity for Guam’s voters to tell party leaders that Democratic voters believe that ALL Americans should have access to medical care; that it’s time to reform the broken criminal justice system and policing culture tainted by systemic racism; that we must strengthen worker’s rights and raise the minimum wage; that we need to legalize marijuana nationwide; and that the federal government must bring more resources, investment, and democratic rights to the hardworking but too often forgotten Americans living in the U.S. territories.
To be clear, Sanders has suspended his campaign, which is different than terminating a campaign. His name will still appear on ballots in jurisdictions that had not yet held a primary or caucus at the time he suspended. Because of this, votes or him are still tallied for the National Convention, and he can still win delegates. While confusing, this is a normal practice, and not unique to Sanders.
Message to party elites
Again, a vote for Bernie Sanders is not meant to bring division to the party or derail Biden’s nomination, should he have the number of delegates needed to secure it – as he almost certainly will. Rather, a vote for Sanders and his delegates communicates our collective desire to party elites that we, the people, want the Democratic Party to be bigger and bolder in its fight for progressive policy. Even though these kinds of policies are often ignored or dismissed as fantasy by those intent on defending the status quo, the reality is that these are the kinds of policies that excite the Democratic Party’s base, that inspires young people to knock on doors to “get out the vote,” that elicit needed donations, and let us believe our elected representatives are working to make life better for us – the common person.
There are many real and substantive policy differences among Democrats of good faith across the United States, including here on Guam. This is a good thing. We need a healthy exchange of ideas – a continual push and pull of competing proposals – in order to define who we are, what we stand for, and what goals to pursue in the political arena. But one thing all Democrats agree on is the absolute need to vote President Donald Trump out of office in November’s general election. Trump has been an unmitigated disaster in virtually every traditional societal measure of the presidency and has managed to create several new ways to fail the nation along the way. In that, the millions of voters who comprise the Democratic Party stand united.
By voting for Sanders on Saturday, and thereby sending his passionately progressive delegates to the Democratic National Convention, you can help shape a presidential platform that will represent the will of Democrats on Guam, as well as a platform that will help defeat Donald Trump’s reelection.
The Democratic Party of Guam’s caucus will be held this Saturday, June 6, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., at the governor's complex in Adelup.
Tony Azios is a Tamuning resident and candidate for delegate to the Democratic National Convention.