When its not an election year do people care that much about where politicians stand on issues? They probably should, but do they really? When an election comes around they probably still don't really care, but now there is a feeling that you are supposed to show you care. You are supposed to pretend that you care. You wouldn't want people to think that you are a pointless lump of flesh that has no idea what is going on around them right? You wouldn't want to be the person that people point to in the office to prove how democracy is a waste, because people like you are so apathetic and lazy that it screws up the whole system.
So for a couple months every two to four years you randomly collect pieces of information. Small tidbits. Things you hear randomly on the radio, on TV, among friends. You also store up faint insights you get while watching an ad or passing by a candidate's sign by the road.
The most wonderful part of this though is that while you might not normally care about politics, no gaihinasso na politician will call you out on this. You can approach them with all manner of questions and queries and they are expected to respond in a rational and interested manner. That's why I often create assignments for my classes at UOG for an election year that are geared towards forcing students to engage with politicians. They have to interview them, they have to learn about their positions on things, the accomplishments, if any that they can be proud of.
It is important to use this season in the name of certain truths, but what tends to happen is that things get lost in the ideological haze. People are challenging candidates from so many angles that it is easy to forget that although ideology is everywhere, everything that is ideological is not the same thing. My students when discussing history often times invoke the mantra that there are "two sides" to every story, which is both true and very misleading. Even if there are multiple sides, or at least two sides to every event, that does not mean that those stories are equal. It does not mean that you should value them the same and that you should cancel them out. There are different types of ideological statements, and so you shouldn't cram them into machines for formulating false equivalency and you shouldn't just cast them aside because you may not accept the framework for their genesis.
This was precisely what happened last week when two surveys meant to provide insights into the ideology and psychology of the candidates were distributed. A survey by We Are Guahan meant to gauge the support that candidates have or do not have for certain aspects of the the proposed military buildup to Guam was publicized first. Later a survey from the local Chamber of Commerce was distributed to gauge how much candidates supported the militarization of Guam. The Marianas Variety in two editorials pasted below argued that both surveys were polarizing, turning a very grey issue into something that they demanded be black or white. They politely condemned both for pushing too hard their particular ideological position and that they were doing a disservice to their causes by not giving candidates more wiggle room on such a monumental and complicated issue.
If you pay close attention to the two surveys, while both are crafted in a way to help reveal whether or not a candidate is on their side, one survey is productive and constructive, the other isn't. The We Are Guahan survey is built upon the proposed components of the buildup. It places the reality of the buildup in simple black and white equations and a candidate then has to answer whether or not they think the buildup is worth the price the equation requires be paid. It is born from a position that does assume the buildup isn't worth it, but the objectivity of the survey is that they are not "making up" the costs and the potential damages. Those things are objective, they are just reminding you about them in their survey.
The Chamber of Commerce survey doesn't allow any complexity but seems to be a more refined version of the the petition circulated last year by Para Hita Todo. They are not interested in doing much of anything it seems, except getting people to argue that the military buildup and any military buildup is good for Guam. One survey has the potential to educate, the other simply calls for people to accept their ideological position. The We Are Guahan survey is not meant to make politicians go against the buildup, but just meant to make them consider the potential costs. It is meant to make them think about the buildup. The Chamer survey is not.
Articles about both surveys can be found below: