Ahead of the Northern Marianas Democratic Party caucus tomorrow, the choices have been clear for some time: hoarse-throated, self-proclaimed enemy of Wall Street, Sen. Bernie Sanders, or former secretary of state, establishment favorite, and potential first woman president Hillary Clinton, for the party’s presidential candidate come the November election.
The Northern Marianas Democratic Party holds its Saipan caucus tomorrow, Saturday, March 12, at Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Ballroom. Registration for the caucus will start at 6pm.
“We hope that Democrats and people interested in participating in the Democratic Party process turn out on Saturday,” said Brian Flaherty, a local volunteer helping organizeng tomorrow’s caucus.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), for his part, reiterated his support of Clinton as “the only candidate” who would recognize the importance of Asian Pacific Americans in a statement yesterday. Sablan believes Clinton’s “practical problem-solving and experience” is needed for the long list of health care, the military, and labor force issues affecting the islands.
Rep. Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan), though, is “feeling the Bern” as in Bernie Sanders.
“Why Bernie? I think he stands for a lot of things that I firmly believe in. As a college graduate, I know what is like to be in debt. I am still paying my college loans. I like the fact that he embraces the notion that we need to invest in our youth, in our young minds. And we are not a socialist country just because we are going to fund public colleges. We are already funding public schools, so what really is the difference? It is just an extension of that.”
“It’s being done in many different countries,” Propst added. “They are investing in young minds.”
Propst also tips his hat to Sander’s pledge to improve health care. “We’ve seen improvements that the Affordable Care Act has done, he said, referring to President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care initiative. “I think that Bernie’s health care plans go a step further. And anybody that believes it is socialist or communist simply has to do some basic research and look at the rest of the world’s countries.”
“I believe in him because he has the heart, he’s been consistent and he is a passionate and caring. He is only going to war as last resort and explore all the avenues of diplomacy before ever even considering that.”
But whoever does win the election come November, Propst prays the CNMI is “not forgotten.”
“We are an extension, a territory, a Commonwealth of the United States. Our needs are just as great as any town in the mainland,” Propst said.
“I am totally with Bernie but if someone is choosing Hilary, I am perfectly fine with that,” Propst said. “Just as long as it’s not [Donald] Trump or [Sen. Ted] Cruz [the Republican Party candidates]. That’s the only thing that would be most devastating.”
Local attorney Janet King, the representative of the CNMI for Hillary Clinton campaign, said she supports Clinton “because of her long history of experience and sound policy ideas.”
“She is smart,” King said, “and her plans and proposals are achievable.
“We can’t afford someone like Senator Bernie Sanders who may sound like he has good ideas, but his plans on how to achieve them are just not realistic,” King added. “That’s the difference between Hillary and Mr. Sanders. I choose Hillary.”
“Our great nation,” King said, “is getting ready to elect its 45th president, and I hope that the American people elect Hillary Clinton as our first woman president!”
Stephen Woodruff, the NMI authorized representative for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, told Saipan Tribune that the short answer to “Why Bernie?” is because “He is the is the candidate with the best vision of what America can and should be, and also the candidate with the best prospects of defeating whoever is the Republican candidate in November.”
Woodruff says Sanders has the highest favorable rating of any candidate in either party and the lowest unfavorable rating, and does not have the negatives and vulnerabilities Clinton has. And that in head-to-head polling matchups with possible Republican candidates, Sanders consistently performs better than Clinton, beating every possible Republican candidate by wide margins.
Sanders also recognizes that climate change poses an existential threat to the entire human species, Woodruff added. “Sanders wants to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and opposes environmentally dangerous practices like fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“He is against bad trade deals,” Woodruff and, “like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) that major corporations negotiated in secret for their own benefit.
“He knows we must regulate “Wall Street” and do away with “too big to fail,” Woodruff said. “He knows how corporate welfare and crony capitalism are destroying the American economy and the American middle class. He will work tirelessly to remove the corrupting influence of money from American politics and government.
“Sander knows that America is made less, not more, secure by military adventurism,” Woodruff said. And unlike Clinton, Woodruff said Sanders voted against “the disastrous Iraq war that cost us a trillion dollars, thousands of American lives.”