I agree with Mikhael Cruz Phelps that “Democracy requires more than whining;” it also requires participation. Guam’s younger generations love to “engage” in talks about politics but fail miserably, “participating” IN politics.
I don’t know what Cruz means by “imagination.” Imagine all you want; but imagination without action, is nothing more than mental masturbation. The Wright brothers didn’t “imagine” flying, they built an airplane.
I don’t know what Cruz means by “engagement.” Based on actions alone the younger generation’s engagement seems limited to roadside waves, Adelup marches, wearing T-shirts, and local music festivals.
As far as I’m concerned they’re missing the boat. Engagement may feel good, but participation is more effective. I am a member of the “Baby Boomer” generation. In our day we “engaged” too. We marched, wore T-shirts, burned draft cards and bras, and had music festivals; but it wasn’t until we got smart and started voting were we able to bring about meaningful changes. Attending Woodstock didn’t end the Vietnam War, voting in the 1972 election did.
If younger people want to change things they need to participate.
Right now Millennials are the largest generation in the United States, but you wouldn’t know it in the arena that matters most: the voting booth. The most important act of politics is voting and the younger generations suck at that. The proof can be found in the Guam Election Commission’s 2018 Election Report under Section 3.12 Voter Demographics. In 2018 there were 55,941 registered voters, but only 37,386 or 66% made the effort to actually vote. As usual, a greater percentage of registered Boomers voted, giving Boomers a stronger hand guiding Guam’s future.
It does take more than whining; it takes showing up and participating at public hearings, and Boomers show up and participate at public hearings. In the hundreds of public hearings I’ve attended over the years, rarely do I see any younger people show up or testify. When any do show up, it seems for every young person there to testify, 20 are content sitting in the audience holding signs.
It does take more than whining; it takes communication. It takes meeting and talking to representatives, outlining exactly why you support or oppose a position they have taken, a law they have proposed, or a law that needs to be proposed.
Boomers and Millennials are far apart in life experience, knowledge, and courage. When I ask young people why they don’t participate in the process they tell me they are afraid. So I applaud Cruz for stepping into the arena. It is not easy, and I know from having been young and passionately active in politics many decades ago, battling “the man” and “the establishment.” Even though Millennials talk a lot about changing things, most seem content sitting on the sidelines whining on social media than participating in the process.
Younger generations may want independence for Guam, but first, they must prove worthy of it, and capable of it. They can start by holding politicians accountable for keeping their campaign promises. They can write and pass a Guam Constitution, and assume more power to govern locally, and by doing so prove to Congress, and the rest of our people Guam is capable of governing itself without a proctor monitoring every action.
If I sound like I am challenging the younger generations, it’s because I am. It’s a challenge I’ve issued to younger generations in print and social media several times a year since 2014, and they’ve yet to accept the challenge.
Younger generations need to realize “politics” is a numbers game. When Boomers are the majority stepping up and speaking out, Boomers get to set the agenda for Millennials whether they like it or not. Nothing would make me happier than seeing younger generations turn up in huge numbers and take the lead in setting Guam’s agenda going forward.
But until they do, the Mikhael Cruz Phelpses of the island will have to accept that the Ken Leon-Guerreros of the island will have a bigger say in where we go just by virtue of the fact we show up and participate.
Ken Leon-Guerrero is a resident of Santa Rita