Is it possible that people can hold their political cards so close to their respective chests that no one could possibly see where they stand during an election year?
Two years ago and even as far back as four years previous, many in the political "know" in Guam where going about their days very aloof of the issues facing our Island and region. As an observer of this particular phenomena for the last two decades, it has become clear that politics seems to only come forward when the election cycle hits full swing in the weeks and days before the first votes are cast in a primary or general election.
Remarkably, much of Guam's electorate may have an idea of what their favorite candidates stand for as they approach the polling sites, but behaviors change when posed with casting that all important vote. Guam voting behavior is so very unique. When people cast votes in elections in the decades past, there was great discussion at the dinner table or family living rooms on just how and who to vote for. The stories are many of the head of the family directing just who to cast a vote for and why that person was important to that particular partisan or non-partisan seat. While that practice has gone away in some villages from Yigo to Merizo, this effort has taken on a more modern flair.
Social media like Facebook and the occasional email and What App Chat among family members and friends are starting to replace the back kitchen debates and water cooler talk at the workplace. This particular cycle is going to be one of the firsts which will test this new discourse and challenge the dated practices of Guam politics.
I stand firm that grass roots politics still works here. But the approach continues to be eroded by some who have been employed by both political parties here as of late. Chalk it up to a lack of experience, little knowledge of the philosophy or backgrounds of the candidate they are supporting, or just a lack of common sense. The grass roots effort brings the issues to the electorate's front door. Knocking loud and lacking respect of the cultures that make up the melting pot of Guam are common culprits of turning off a respective voter. But the biggest concern for a respective campaign that places the candidate at risk for a certain loss is the candidate not hitting the streets him or herself. Watching tv, browsing the web or the occasion village "pocket" meeting is not enough to win the voters' minds and hearts. Many island voters will remember this lack of visibility or inability to articulate their views when they are casting their ballot.
Football great Joe Namath said, "If you're not gonna go all the way, why go at all?". Guam's favorite contact sport remains politics. Holding close our views only takes away the chance for each member of the electorate to share their thoughts on how government helps or hurts them. We cannot afford to sugar coat or spin our way past inaction or ineffective administrative or legislative leadership. Let your voice be heard. Tell those running for office what you want of your government. If they cannot effectively share their vision with you and you are not convinced of their sincerity, then please tell them. Voting is a right as a citizen of this great Island and Nation-use it wisely.