top of page
  • By Zaldy Dandan


Zaldy Dandan

Saipan — This month, voters across the U.S., including Guam, the NMI and the other territories, are electing their leaders, lawmakers etc. Not a lot of voters will remember (or care) that in the previous election years, every single candidate promised every single good thing that he or she could possibly promise. And yet in this election year, many voters are either still unhappy or even unhappier. So they will cast their votes again for whoever is for change, hope, greatness. They will vote, again, for “new faces,” the “highly educated,” those with “integrity.”

In his glorious “Notes on Democracy,” which was published in 1926, H.L. Mencken noted that many people cling to the belief that decent and honorable men and women should go into politics to “clean it up.” He said this is like saying “that the remedy for prostitution is to fill the bawdy-houses with virgins. My impression is that this last device would accomplish very little: either the virgins would leap out of the windows, or they would cease to be virgins.”

Probably because I’ve been a political junkie since I was six years old, I’m finally sick and tired of politics. I now consider it a distasteful task like cleaning one’s restroom. You don’t want to do it, you would rather not do it, but you also know that it could get worse if you don’t do it — so you end up doing it.


Fine. But if I have to be involved in politics as an individual I will form a new political party, and I will call it

SCRAM! Stop Complaining and Ranting Always, Mygolly!

To quote P.J. O’Rourke, politicians are fine people — until they stick their noses into things they don’t understand, such as most things. So SCRAM! will oppose any new legislation — except spending bills that have actual funding sources, or bills that re-name a road, school or building after a distinguished member of the local community. SCRAM! will also support the repeal of laws that impose undue burdens, such as fees or taxes, or unreasonable restrictions on businesses, consumers and other members of the public.

Like PJ O’Rourke, SCRAM! believes that “the problem with human lawmaking is that we fail to remember we’re only human (and some of our lawmakers can barely claim that). We — sometimes — make laws that are moral to the best of our knowledge, but we — always — forget that the best of our knowledge is worth squat.”

Not only lawmaking but politics itself “stinks”: “Think about how we use the word ‘politics.’ Are office politics ever a good thing? When somebody plays politics to get a promotion, does he deserve it? When we call a coworker a ‘real politician,’ is that a compliment?”


However, O’Rourke adds, “let’s make a distinction between politics and politicians. Because there are a lot of people who are under a misapprehension that the problem is certain politicians who stink…. But unfortunately it’s just not that simple. The problem is not really politicians. The problem is politics. Politicians are chefs — some good, some bad — but politics is road kill.

"The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the cookbook. The key ingredient of politics is the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. It’s like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it. The fruit cocktail is fried. The soup is fried. The salad is fried. So is the ice cream and cake. And your pinot noir is rolled in breadcrumbs and dunked in the deep fat fryer. It is just no way to cook up public policy. Politics is greasy. Politics is slippery. Politics can’t tell the truth.”



“Because just think what the truth would sound like on the campaign stump. Even a little, bitty bit of truth. ‘No, I can’t fix public education. The problem isn’t funding or teachers unions or lack of vouchers or absence of computer equipment in the classroom. The problem is your damned kids.’ Now, that’s just not going to work.”

SCRAM!’s first political act will be to draft PJ O’Rourke as the party’s candidate for CNMI governor, president of the U.S., and emperor of the planet Earth.

Of course, O’Rourke, wise man that he is, will tell us to scram.

Zaldy Dandan is editor of the NMI’s oldest newspaper, Marianas Variety, and author of three books available on


Subscribe to our

digital monthly edition

bottom of page