Maybe a better way to frame that question is why do Hawaii voters elect politicians so unlike themselves? I came here in 1978 as a veteran, fresh out of college, hoping to get a Master’s Degree in Linguistics at the University of Hawaii and to participate at the East-West Center. It was not my intention to remain indefinitely or to make Hawaii home. My goal was to return to the Philippines where I had been stationed in the U.S. Air Force to serve as a Bible translator and Christian Missionary.
I think the first two words I learned in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi were malihini and kamaaina. I was the former then and am now the latter, but realize I would never become a local even if I live here the rest of my life. That is reserved for folks who were born here in the islands.
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I’m fine with that. As I get up there in years, I am happy when a lot of local folks refer to me respectfully as uncle. The hospitality of Hawaii is the best thing we all have going for us. Whatever your race or national origin, the mostly laid-back, friendly lifestyle of Hawaii is the biggest attraction that keeps people here whatever their original intentions were.
But, why do we keep on putting such domineering people into public office? Governor David Ige is a local. Mayor Rick Blangiardi is not. If you are from Hawaii, you know the names of all our other politicians, so I won’t list them all. The one most obvious factor that most of them have in common is the Democrat Party. But I am not going on a diatribe about one-party-politics here. Linda Lingle was a Republican In Name Only. I personally really liked Mayor Frank Fasi and regret that he never succeeded in becoming Governor.
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But Hawaii has been caught up since last year in a national panic that has suppressed all freedom of expression and individual choice. We pride ourselves in not being like the other 49 states. We are more like some of them and less like others.
We actually have less rights than even California. We don’t have gubernatorial recall nor referendum / initiative on the ballot. We also cannot write in the names of candidates. We have an Attorney General appointed by the Governor rather than popularly elected. We have no statewide police force or office of investigations. Hawaii State Sheriffs are limited pretty much to the airport, seaport and state lands. Everything else on the island is HPD.
When Hawaii gets an elected leader who is out of control, we really have no recourse. The Hawaii Constitution, Hawaii Revised Statutes and Honolulu City Charter do allow for the recall of a Mayor, but we know that will never really happen. Nor will this very homogeneous State Legislature ever impeach the Governor.
So, we can all just grin and bear it. We watch not only many of our friends and neighbors but even our own family members seeking out opportunities in other states for the lower cost of living, easier access to recreational facilities and the ability to live as they wish without government intervening and overruling everything they want to do.
It wasn’t always like this here in Hawaii. I came in 1978 and in 1986 I left for a few years on the job, returning at the end of 1991. I really missed Hawaii the entire time I was away. But, this summer during a long overdue trip back to North America, I was gone from Hawaii for about a month. The main sensation was like having taken off the shoe that was too tight. I didn’t feel like big brother was watching over my shoulder and monitoring not only my activities but apparently even my thoughts.
This is not about partisan politics. This is about the quality of life. Hawaii people are very diverse and respect others for who they are. We never try to change them to become like us. We don’t demand conformity. So, why do we keep electing politicians who do those very things that we don’t do in our own personal lives? Seriously! Do we really want government to be our master rather than our servant?
I’ve written a lot recently about the vaccine and the fact that health decisions are a very personal matter, not to be mandated by the government. But that is just a symptom of our problem, not the cause. The problem is that we need to hold all our elected officials accountable. Either they represent us and do what is in our own best interest, or we replace them with someone else more respectful and competent.
The family unit is the most basic element of society. Any politician who disrespects our ohana needs to find a new line of work. The best thing we can do now is not to marginalize those who are vocalizing their concerns that our current Governor and Mayor are overstepping their authority. The people who are protesting are your friends, neighbors, family and yes, perhaps even you.
The politicians serve at our pleasure. Once they displease us by imposing their own template upon society, disrespecting us, we have to let them know how we feel. If you see a bully knocking down your brother on the school yard, are you just going to ignore it?
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