Friday, May 02, 2008

Guam Always Left Out to Dry

'Year after tired year, Guam has been hung out to dry'
The Marianas Variety

I listened attentively to former President Bill Clinton call some of the island's radio stations yesterday. I admit that it was nice to hear his voice once again, and many of my friends and family appreciated his time and attention. However, I'm struck by the fact that the former president is calling once again for our island's assistance when it is Guam that has needed the help of the Clintons and the federal government for many years.

The people of Guam donated almost $600,000 to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton Administration and almost $200,000 to the Clinton-Gore Campaign of 1996. Justifiably, there was never any problem taking our money, and I know that my fellow Democrats on Guam never made the Clintons feel embarrassed for asking repeatedly for more. That's politics. I get it.

But what has irritated many of us about the Clinton Administration is their follow through. In early 1997, when there arose a series of questions about money from China that may have made its way into the Clinton re-election campaign, enough individuals in the federal government who were opposed to Guam Commonwealth falsely began to lump us into the China mix, labeling us a foreign country running interference in American politics.

It would have been a relatively simple task for someone inside President Clinton's Administration to take a stand and let our nation know about the sacrifices our island and its sailors, soldiers and Marines continue to make in the name of America's defense, that we're the first line of defense in all of Asia. But this never happened. In fact, after Guam and China were lumped together in the national press, after the Clintons went back to their homes, those who had taken our money would not even take phone calls from Guam representatives.

On Guam, we're realistic about our relationship with the greatest nation on our earth. We understand we are small, but we still believe we are significant. We understand that because we gave money time and time again does not mean we would automatically get something in return, but even a common courtesy of a returned phone was lost by late February 1997, and many of us felt as if we were penalized because we had helped. This is not what we in the islands expect from those we have helped.

On May 3rd, Guam will go the polls to vote for our choice for the Democratic nominee for president. It gave me a warm feeling that President Clinton visited Guam in November 1998, and that he called some of our island's media outlets today. But I don't want warm feelings any longer. I want a true seat at the table. I want hope. I want change. And Sen. Barack Obama, who currently leads in the Democratic Primary with the most popular votes, pledged delegates, money raised and states won, is the only candidate left of the remaining three who I believe could provide a greater voice for our people in Washington D.C.

Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia as the product of a mixed race marriage. His mother worked through a period when they had to resort to food stamps and public assistance, and Obama excelled despite the obstacles. If anyone could ever understand the complex and unique struggles we face on Guam, it is Sen. Barack Obama, the inspirational junior senator from Illinois.

Ryan Flynn
Former Guam resident

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