Post-election in the post-Covid season
The November elections are over. Call it banal, but there is no easier way to cap the election season than this hackneyed opening line.
It has been “a wild ride,” outgoing CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said in describing the commonwealth’s gubernatorial election which he lost to his estranged lt. governor, Arnold Palacios.
Every election—in any place— is a wild ride. That’s just the nature of the political process. Conflict is its province. Politics exists because people don't see eye to eye on how things should be done and who should do them. People have divergent beliefs, values and temperaments, hence the clashing viewpoints on public issues.
“That is what democracy is about. In elections, there arise divisions as we put our names forward to do the incredibly difficult task of leading our islands,” said Gov. Torres, who is preparing for a graceful exit.
Guam, of course, is no different. This year’s gubernatorial race put our differences into stark relief. We’ve become even more polarized in the past two years when the Covid-19 pandemic muddled science with politics. One’s position on the administration’s Covid policies defines their ideology.
Everyone pretends to be a scientist. Everyone pretends to be a constitutional expert. Social media is deluged with insane threads that have shattered friendships and alienated families.
“If you had predicted the outcome of the election of Guam’s next governor solely on Facebook comments on local news stories, you might have assumed that change was going to sweep over the island and all the incumbents, especially the current governor and democratic majority, would be tossed out of office and onto Marine Corps Drive,” Michael Bevacqua writes in his analysis of the 2022 elections.
In the end, the real world has its own realities.
Now after another socially cleaved election, our politicians followed the template for decorum, which entails the mandatory clichés: “Let the healing begin,” and “let’s focus on working together.”
But we know that the honeymoon period is always brief. In politics, “healing” is an inconsequential platitude. The animosity that escalates during the campaign period tends to linger even after the votes are counted.
So now we begin exploring “what’s next?”
“(My priority is) to provide our people with a better quality of life,” Gov. Leon Guerrero said in an interview with the Pacific Island Times.
The campaign season is over. Without corresponding plans and follow-up actions, pretty words are just pretty words.
With a fresh mandate, the reelected governor will be looking to tick a number of boxes on a list of short and long-term goals for the next four years.
While judgment happens on election day, the governor will continue to be judged long after the certification of results.