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OPINION | Democratic Party: The trailblazing political organization in the NMI

THIS month, we are celebrating Women’s Month and the important contributions women have made in different areas within our community. I would like to emphasize the powerful role women have played in politics, not only throughout the world, but more significantly within the Democratic Party here in the CNMI.

Prior to the gubernatorial election of 1977, the Democratic Party was the dominant political organization in the Marianas. The Ladies Association was the core organizational arm of the Party, and the driving force behind its successes. No one could become a political candidate for the Party without the approval and endorsement of the Ladies Association. Every fundamental social, political and economic issue that the Party attempted to promote had to secure the support of the Ladies Association, because without their support, that issue would go nowhere.

The Ladies Association was the political foundation of the Democratic Party. This group of powerful women in the Democratic Party organization was responsible for the successful political careers of many men who were and are prominent figures in the history of the CNMI.

In a dramatic demonstration of their power, the Ladies Association of the Democratic Party in 1979 during the First Commonwealth legislature, control by Republican, asserted their power and influence by going against a casino bill that was sponsored by one of their members. Their protest against this legislation prompted the Catholic church to also rein in on the issue. The relentless and collective resistance by these determined wives and mothers alerted the interest of federal enforcement officials that an investigation was subsequently undertaken and a curtained individual was later indicted.

One of the most amazing things about the Ladies Association was the fact that these women were mothers and grandmothers, many of whom had less than a high school education, but they were so resolute in their determination to play a role in making the Commonwealth a better place for their children and a bright future for all of our people.

As a matter of fact, it was because of the tenacity of the Ladies Association that the Commonwealth Covenant passed with a 78.9 percent affirmative vote. I can only imagine what it would be like if we still had the powerful influence of the Ladies Association behind the Democratic Party now.

As we celebrate Women’s Month, I would like to appeal to the children and grandchildren of all the mothers who were in Ladies Association of the Democratic Party, and other serious-minded young adults in our community to consider being part of this amazing political organization rich in history and was literally instrumental in changing the course of the Marianas District/CNMI political history:

1. Playing an instrumental part in the establishment of the Popular party the forerunner of today’s Democratic Party

2. Established the Saipan Municipal Council

3. Seeking reintegration with the Territory of Guam

4. Helping to secure the payment of $10 million in war reparations, as compensation for the atrocities of war

5. Won the first mayoral election

6. Petitioned the United Nations Trusteeship Council to grant our right to political self-determination

7. Passed the Charter establishing the Mariana Islands District Legislature

8. Respectfully and amicably urged that the Northern Marianas cease our association with the rest of the Trust Territory through the Congress of Micronesia

9. Passed the law establishing the Marianas Political Status Commission

10. Played an essential part in the negotiation for self-government through the Covenant

11. Lobbied intensely before in the US, Congress for passage of the Covenant through the leadership of Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill, Jr.

12. Led the campaign for the ratification of the Covenant through a plebiscite where 78.9 percent of our people voted affirmatively

13. Through our first Constitutional Convention, helped to establish the constitutional structures of the CNMI government.

14. Implemented the CNMI only 80/20 Food Stamp expenditure allocation requirement

As women begin to take active roles in the private sector and government, younger millennial voters are joining the Democratic Party throughout the nation for the values the Party stands for. The Democratic Party welcomes individual women who have provocative ideas and need a platform to advance them. This is an exciting time for women, and an exciting time to be a Democrat.

Here is an interesting quote about women from one of the most powerful women in in politics. “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done ask a woman.” Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

A former House member, the writer is a resident of Kanat Tabla, Saipan.