To often the list of things that people vote based on is filled with the trivial, the superficial and the embarrassing. People will vote for candidates based on height, hair, smile, ability to wave by the roadside and even what their first name is. In a democracy people have the right to vote for whoever they want to, regardless of how informed they are about the candidates or the issues. This is one of the reasons why everyone may claim to love democracy, but really want it only in small doses. Real democracies take work. They require that the people keep track of their leaders. They require that the people themselves are knowledgeable and know who for whom they are voting. If this is not the case, then communities tend to elect simply those who are most famous or the wealthiest.
Next month Guam will be electing another Legislature. Currently there are 30 candidates running for those 15 spots in Hagatna. For several months people have been asking these candidates where they stand on everything from the military buildup to abortion rights to fishing rights. Most candidates take positions that are completely inoffensive or harmless, in other words better everything that’s good, less of anything that’s bad, that is my promise to you.
The Independence Task Force would like to weigh in as well, but not in the way you might think. We don’t want to know what political status candidates support or try and convince them to support our status (at least not yet). What we are looking for in candidates this election are people who know the basics about our political status and self-determination. Regardless of what status they support, we want people in power who at least know what they are talking about when these issues come up and will not just speak or legislate with their misconceptions.
The Task Force developed a simple quiz of 11 multiple choice questions that will test a candidate’s general knowledge about Guam’s political status and its potential decolonization. These questions are not meant to support Independence or any other status option. They are just meant to see how much our potential leaders know about this very critical issue. At the end of the quiz there is a short essay question where each candidate can express what they feel personally about political status and what option they believe is the best for Guam.
Often times during a political season people obsess over opinions and platforms. What does the candidate feel or think about this? What will the candidate do about that? This is all well and good, but it is also important to take into account what a candidate knows and what they understand. Too often people will elect those whose names are known and whose face is easy on the eyes. These things make people feel like they can trust someone or that they should be in a leadership position. For the Independence Task Force we are looking for candidates who instead of saying the right things simply know what they are talking about. It is a simple enough request, but one we often forget during election season.
Sahuma Minagahet ya Na’suha Dinagi
Michael Lujan Bevacqua