THIS year is an election year, and while the Guam campaign season has yet to heat up, recent developments on the mainland bear watching. In the race for president, we can safely presume that President Obama will be the Democratic Party nominee. The recent Iowa caucuses, however, showed there has yet to emerge a clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination, although this may change after today’s New Hampshire primary. This is just the start, though.
A close presidential race may work to our benefit here on Guam as it has in the recent past. Although Guam residents cannot vote in the national general election, we can influence the decision of who will be the Republican, and perhaps the Democratic, nominee for president in this year’s General Election. In so doing, we may gain some traction in resolving issues of local import.
During the last presidential election, Guam's Democrats actually had a chance to make a difference. In one of the closest primary races in U.S. history, candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both campaigned on Guam. This year, the Republican nomination may shape up to be a close race where Guam's delegates may influence the choice of the national Republican Party. This would provide an important opportunity to bring issues facing Guam to the national spotlight.
A few of the issues on which I would like the Republican nominee’s commitment include:
- Support for the military buildup that includes support for our civilian community;
- Adequate reimbursement of prior years’ Compact impact costs and a commitment to fund future costs;
- Removal of constraints that prevent full economic growth such as the Jones Act, cabotage restrictions and restrictions on fisheries;
- Visa waivers for citizens of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines;
- Payment of costs for federal mandates such as secondary waste water treatment;
- Full inclusion in federal programs such as Medicaid and the Social Security Administration's "Supplemental Security Income" program;
- The ability for Guam residents to use Medicare and other federal program benefits at hospitals in the Republic of the Philippines; and
- Enactment of the Guam Loyalty Recognition Act.
This list is by no means exhaustive but includes issues I hope will be considered by the presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat.
With another presidential primary election season upon us, we on Guam have a chance to influence the choice of who will lead the United States for the next four years. Beyond that, we may be able to, at the very least, present issues important to Guam to the major candidates.
If the GOP race is as close as the 2008 Democratic race was, we may even have the opportunity to secure commitments from the candidates to work toward resolution of some longstanding local issues.