OP ED: "American Samoa and US Presidential Elections"
Every ten years the US Census Bureau conducts a survey on the entire population of the United States. Included in the census count is the "unorganized" and "unincorporated" US Territory of American Samoa, This also includes Samoans living in the continental United States,
When it comes to the question of population, American Samoa is listed as among the least in number among US states and territories — 56,158 according to the 2016 US Census report.
It should also be noted that a person born in American Samoa does not automatically acquire US citizenship status; and according to federal law, the person is classified as a US national.
And who is a US national? Again by definition under federal law, a US national is a person who owes "permanent allegiance" to the United States, but who is neither an alien nor a citizen of the of the United States.
What is unique under federal law is that US nationals carry US passports, and they can travel freely to the US, and they can also enlist in the armed forces, but they are not eligible to vote in state and federal elections. They can, however, acquire eligibility status for citizenship status by living in any state, but apply in federal court.
It is unfortunate that there does not seem to be any movement by the general population and territorial leaders to seek a better solution on the current political status of American Samoa with the United States.
I am reminded of a comment made years ago by Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa concerning American Samoa' current political status. PM Tuilaepa observed that American Samoa is not only an unorganized US territory but also "disorganized."
While some of our territorial leaders may take offense to PM Tuilaepa's comment, I believe he observed correctly that our little territory needs to face up to the fact that American Samoa is currently at a stalemate — not knowing whether she is going forward or backward in terms of a better definition of its current ties with the United States.
Our territorial leaders need to face up to the fact that the only reason why the US took an interest in American Samoa was for the usage of the harbor in Pago Pago Bay.