A Lesson in Representative Democracy

A couple of months ago I watched Biba, a very thought-provoking documentary about the election process on the Island of Rota. The film follows the storylines of 3 candidates, 2 from the major parties Convenant/Republican and one independent, and show’s how an island of 2,500 elect their government. Everyone though gets involved in the political process, families and relatives come out in droves to support their party, and they try to wrangle in the people on the fence. It is fascinating to see democracy, government of the people, at some basic level thriving on a small Island in the Marianas Archipelago, but looking more in depth into the elective process, its reasons and motivations never are as idealistic as they seem. The Parties come out hard to control the Governor’s house in Rota because of the municipal fund,  money brought in Federally and raised through the Casino that they built in 2007, and whoever has control over that honey jar can dole it out to their friends and relatives, or “supporters, through the form of Government work grants and jobs.

Control and Power consolidation in government is not something that is exclusive Rota, but the transparency and grass roots form of Democracy on that Island do show the problems of Democracy at a much simpler level. That problem we see being highly discussed on Guam right now because of illegal back pay raises by the Governor and their employees, and that is because, when somebody “wins” an election, basically everyone loses. Because what are platforms? Promises to your people, your financial supporters and people who give their time and away for you, not for “Guam” but you need to reward the people that got you there.

I know that this is how Democracy has been played for years, and it is has been a fundamental issue that has made sleazy men and women millionaires and persecuted the disenfranchised (Tyranny of the Majority), but it never makes it easier to stomach. We need campaign reform and need to educate the public that being good a businessman does not make a qualified public servant but actually holds the opposite values of everything that a decent public worker should have.  It is so sickening to see GovGuam agencies still in woes while Adelup and political appointees get rewarded. There are teachers are DOE who haven’t gotten pay raises for years, while people who help set up signs during Election Season are getting taken care of.

The lesson here is in representative democracy, when your team loses, not only does everyone not win but you also double lose because the team will bring their political appointees who will only adhere to the party line, and that idea is something that is bringing down progress and positive change on the Island.


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