During an Aug. 7 Ethics in Politics discussion at UH’s Shidler Business School, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa made it clear that civil engagement – the Resistance – is critical to our political discussion and policy future.

By contrast, state Rep. Della Au Belatti seemed apprehensive about grass roots activists, suggesting that average citizens are quick to criticize without fully grasping the nuance of the legislative process.

It’s time to have a real conversation. Because status quo is no longer an option.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz met with members of Indivisible Hawaii last year in his Honolulu office.

Indivisible Hawaii

Our democracy is not static but vulnerable. Our rights, even if fought for and already won, can be threatened or taken away. Our government is one of the people, and we’re part of those people. The resistance is here to stay, but we are refusing to be on the menu. We are taking a seat at the table.

Hawaii’s resistance is a group of average citizens who spend every Tuesday’s lunch hour meeting with the federal members of Congress and Thursday’s visiting the statehouse. We focus on justice (social, racial, and economic), democratic principles, health care, immigration, and national security. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Congresswoman Hanabusa have welcomed us, and we’ve engaged in serious policy discussions about the fate of our state and our country. Some state legislators have been equally welcoming. Others, not so much.

During panel’s question and answer portion, one of the audience members said it best – it’s time for our elected officials to listen to what we have to say, not the other way around. While the Legislature is not in session now, we can’t afford to take time off from the real-world problems left unanswered by the last session. Enough is enough. When the new session starts in January, we expect it be productive and meaningful. We will be paying attention to what our elected officials choose to focus on — inaction to win elections or policy decisions for the betterment of Hawaii.

Representative Au Belatti, see you on Thursdays at the Capitol. We hope that you and your colleagues will welcome us the same way Hanabusa, Hirono, and Schatz have. Together, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

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