What I Learned from the DNC #1:
Democrats vs. Republicans
(this is the first in a series of concluding thoughts on my time as the blogger from Guam at the 2008 DNC)
For the territories the differences between Democrats and Republicans can be negligible and often boils down to simple politeness or rudeness. If Guam was to seek to become the 51st or 52nd state of the United States, then you would find the foundations of both parties be the same “NO!” but the rhetoric lain atop that foundation very different. One friendly, nicer, more willing to listen, open to nuance, while the other a clear, direct rebuke, like “You are not Americans!”
Depending on your perspective this could be something or nothing. It could mean that engaging at the level of national American politics is either pointless or important, or some mixture of the two.
For me, it creates the appearance of a far better possibility of working with Democrats instead of Republicans, and this “appearance” while arguably small and minor, is not without its usefulness. It was under the Democrats in the early 1990’s that the non-voting delegates to the United States first received their “symbolic” votes in the House. It was under the Republicans that they were taken away. Democrats gave them back in 2006 and the Republicans have sworn to take them away when they regain the House majority.
While this power is symbolic and doesn’t overcome in any real way the general indifference and powerlessness of the territories at the Federal level, it does afford them some marginal powers, which can be wielded in important ways. For instance, the non-voting delegates under these symbolic rules can now again serve as chairs of subcommittees.
But this “appearance” of help or possibility like all things, becomes a reality through the use of these small forms of power and not the trust or hope in the benevolence of the Federales.