According to the Guam Election Commission, as of Aug. 18, 2018, we have 54,033 people registered to vote on Guam. That is nearly one third of our population. Of that number, 30,628, or 56 percent, voted in the primary election. We should be proud. That is pretty good voter turnout for a primary. Voter turnout for the 2016 U.S. presidential election was anywhere from 56 to 58 percent, depending on your source. That is also pretty good turnout, unless you focus on the fact that nearly 42 percent of the voter populations both on Guam and over on the mainland did not vote in these respective elections.
Not voting is certainly a person’s right, and I know people who are so disgusted with our current two-party political system that they don’t vote. But as anyone who has ever been involved in a close election knows: Every. Vote. Counts.
If you don’t like the way things are going, whether you live here on Guam or over on the mainland, sure, you can complain. But if you don’t vote, my contention is that your complaints are hollow arguments, because you don’t care enough to participate in the electoral process. Maybe if you did, yours would be one of the votes that bring about change.
With our current president’s ability to polarize the nation, it is even more important to vote. If you don’t think what is happening over there affects us over here, think again. Trump tax cuts have already gutted our government’s bottom line. Our next governor is going to have to make some tough decisions, based on the revenue projections coming from the current administration. North and South Korea are meeting, which, according to some reports, could affect our U.S. military bases in South Korea, and therefore, could ripple over to how the U.S. military lines up on Guam. That could affect nearly everything here: our economy, our environment, our social fabric.
One of the more disturbing items to come from the mainland recently is a report from the Washington Post, originally published on Aug. 28 and then updated on Sept. 13, that the U.S. State Department is now questioning the U.S. citizenship of mainly Hispanic Americans born in the U.S. who live along the southern border, and denying some renewal of their passports. If you don’t live in a border state, you might tend to brush off such news, thinking, “It could never happen to me.” American citizens who lived through the Holocaust can tell you differently. In pre-World War II Germany, the Nazis first invalidated the passports of Jewish citizens, and then issued them new passports with a “J” designation.
More importantly for us, Chamorros who lived through the Japanese occupation will tell you that shortly after the invasion, the Japanese issued everyone a piece of cloth about 2 inches by 3 inches in diameter – my mother-in-law called it a “badge” – that you had to pin on your clothing and wear everywhere you went. Eventually, she said, they stopped the practice. Still, it is the singling out of a group of people – Chamorros, Jews, Hispanics – that is never a good thing. History tells us that these types of practices do not end well.
So if you don’t like what you see happening – whether it is businesses not paying their fair share of taxes here or over on the mainland, a race of people being singled out, threats to the environment by developers, threats to our ocean waters by foreign nations – your best recourse, if you are one of the 40 or so percent of the people who stayed home on election day, either on Guam or over on the mainland, is to get up off your daggan on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, and cast your ballot.
When 40 percent of the people use their power of one, that multiplied number can generate a tidal wave of changes. Use your power. Vote.
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Jayne Flores is a long-time journalist. She currently works at Guam Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.