What we learned from Guam’s 2018 election
Now that the dust has settled from Guam’s 2018 election, three things stand to the fore.
First: Guam voters don’t do deals. Politicians make back room deals all the time. This, we all know. But what the politicians always seem to forget is that the voters are under no obligation to honor those deals.
When election day rolls around, any deals made and voters casting ballots are mutually exclusive. Politician A may say to Politician B, “If you split the ballot so that my guy wins, I’ll give you such and such.” The problem with this type of deal is that you can’t come out and tell the voters about it. Even if you did, many would most certainly tell you to go jump in the ocean.
While no one came right out and talked about any deal having been made this time around, two would-be deal makers sitting right next to each other during debates or functions is certainly not lost on any breathing voter.
The second thing we learned from the 2018 election is that splitting the party never works. We are now zero for three in the write-in category. Governor-elect Lou Leon Guerrero got 501 (not yet certified) more votes than her two opponents, Republican Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, and Democrat write-in challenger Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., combined. This was clearly a mandate from the people of Guam telling politicians that we’ve been using the two-party system to elect our governor for 48 years now, and we will just stick with it, si yu’os ma’ase.
Two other politicians attempted write-in campaigns back in the 1970s: Republican Gov. Paul Calvo ran as a write-in with Sen. Tony Palomo in 1974, and Democrat Gov. Carl Gutierrez ran as a write-in with University of Guam political science professor Dr. Jose Dizon in 1978. As history often repeats itself, any future candidates thinking about a write-in campaign should heed these three warnings from voters. Although it does have to be said that nearly breaking even with one of your opponents in a write-in campaign is a notable attempt.
The final lesson of the 2018 election is probably the most telling: Guam’s Catholic Church no longer has the hold on people that it once did. The fact that Lou Leon Guerrero, Guam’s first openly pro-choice candidate, won this election speaks volumes about the loosening of the Church’s grip on the island’s majority Catholic population. This, despite the constant preaching from the pulpit that Catholic voters should choose candidates that fall into line with the Church’s “pro-life” (again, this term is a misnomer) stance on abortion.
The lesson here is that if you are going to preach about morality, then you had better have your own house in order. The Catholic Church of Guam, like Catholic Churches around the globe, really has no moral leg to stand on telling the people to vote for a pro-life candidate when it harbored sexual predators for decades, including disgraced alleged predator Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
These creeps destroyed the lives of countless young men and boys. Where was the Church in its “pro-life” stance for them? It is as if a majority of the people of Guam have told the Church, “You can no longer tell us what to do. Not after Apuron and the others.”
And that, gachongs, is the beauty of a democracy. You get to go into the voting booth, and it is just you and that ballot. There’s no politician looking over your shoulder to see if you are going to honor a deal made behind closed doors, or any priest whispering in your ear telling you how to vote. You vote for who you think will do the best to protect, or to change, your way of life, depending on your circumstances.
The people of Guam have spoken. Let the change begin
Jayne Flores is a long-time journalist. She currently works at Guam Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com.