Saipan — In the last election campaign, certain supporters of certain candidates repeatedly stated — as if putting a hex on us all — that they were taking back the government of The People. Who were these People? They were certainly not the corrupt, the bought, the blind nor the ignorant.
It was a compelling campaign slogan: Vote for my candidates or else you’re an idiot. And if your candidates lose — and they sure did — you already have a handy explanation: most voters are idiots.
This made me — oh no! — think. How did or why did The People let go of their government? Did they lose it like a puppy? Or dropped it unknowingly like a traffic ticket? Was there a military coup? A foreign invasion? As far as I can recall, no. There was a previous election though. And other previous elections before that. And in elections, some candidates will win and others will lose. But I’m pretty sure all of them and their supporters are people too.
So who exactly are The People? And what about The Children? And The Children’s Children?
It seems that whenever politicians or their supporters talk about The People, they usually mean People Who Agree with Me. Which reminds me of an old interview with that Great Man of the People, Fidel Castro, who said that The People in Cuba were free to agree with him, and were free do what he told them to do.
I wanted to know more about The People in the CNMI. The first thing I learned: The People were actually made up of several individuals. I decided to interview one of them.
Me: Are you one of The People?
Person: I sure am.
Me: Are you ready to take back your government?
Person: You bet! Wait. Remind me. Who took it away?
Me: You tell me.
What followed was a minute or so of a colloquy, a la Who’s-on-First, but dumber and unfunny. Then I finally asked the right question.
Me: What do you want?
Person: Free stuff.
Me: Who’s paying?
Person: Other people.
Me: What if they say no?
Person: That’s why we have to take back the government.
Me: So, government as a robber?
Person: What are you talking about? Are you racist? Sexist? Fascist? Nazi? Trumpist? We just want what is fair.
Me: Taking other people’s money so you can spend it on yourself is fair?
Person: That’s democracy! Government of the people!
Me: Buy the people? Poor the people?
Person: Share the wealth!
Me: Of other people.
Person: We are the ones we've been waiting for!
Me: I’m afraid so.
* * *
“We should ignore who gives what to whom and vote for candidates on the basis of their ideas and actions. Like that would help. The perpetuation of slavery, the exile and extermination of American Indians, and the passage of Jim Crow laws weren’t policies carried out at the behest of malefactors of great wealth. These ideas and actions had the support of ordinary voters — the individual, small-donor, John Q. Public members of the electorate whose will is supposed to be upheld and protected by campaign finance reform.” — P.J. O'Rourke, “Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards”
Zaldy Dandan is editor of Marianas Variety, the NMI’s oldest newspaper. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org