Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Calvin Griffin, one of two nonpartisan candidates for U.S. representative for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

The district is essentially urban Honolulu, but it stretches from Hawaii Kai in East Honolulu to Waipahu in west Oahu and Mililani in central Oahu. The district includes Pearl City, Waimalu, Aiea and the downtown area.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Name: Calvin C. Griffin

Office: Congress 1st

Party: Non-Partisan

Profession: Small business owner, inventor

Education: 14 years

Age: 64

Community organizations: No affiliations


Calvin Griffin

Calvin Griffin

Submitted photo

1. Why are you running for the U.S. House of Representatives?

As a veteran with 24 years of service, for quite some time I have been deeply concerned with the direction that our country is heading. The tree of liberty which has been so often watered with the blood of patriots has not been well tended by many of the gardeners we have elected over the years and is decaying from within.  In our “representative democracy” one of the key components in the decision making process for every elected official before either proposing or supporting any legislation, is to listen and respect the will of the people. It is not possible to please all of the people, but more often than not, the citizens are convinced that they are increasingly being kept out of the “loop” which lessens their confidence in the system.

“You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time,” is an old saying, but the new political saying is “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, but we just need to fool enough of them to get our candidate elected.” To quote one political observer, “Potential voters would rather be ‘gamed’ than “toyed with,” because the latter implies a higher level of contempt for the target.” Result: Low voter turnout

Special interest groups supply the monetary grease and in some instances intimidation tactics that keep political machines in motion, making or breaking a potential candidate. Many also have the ability to influence and promote legislative issues that can be beneficial to specific political and business entities. Laws and regulations that severely impact individuals, small businesses and community economic development, far too often infringing upon personal freedoms and in the process stifling dissenting voices.

I am not accepting any campaign contributions, not because I’m independently wealthy, but because I believe that there are many who share the challenging goal of reminding the voters that elected officials work for them and the power is in the hands of the citizens. By utilizing the “grapevine” the campaign should not require the “mother’s milk” of politics, money, which far too often has strings attached to it which often tie the hands of an elected official when trying to do the will of the people.  There won’t be a campaign headquarters, any glossy handouts, movie quality TV ads showing me with my family and loyal dog “Fluffy.” Volunteers are individuals receiving no monetary compensation.

Currently, there are a few elected officials who I believe have tried in their own way to live up to the hopes and aspirations of the citizens, but when an elected official has to give his/her loyalty to their party to get elected or stay in office rather than being a true servant of the people, there ultimately is a conflict of interest. I am not “running” against any other candidate, I’m just asking for the opportunity to be a public servant that will be the unfiltered voice of the voters of Hawaii. Additionally, hoping to encourage those who are not satisfied with the limited choices of candidates to get involved by supporting someone in their community that they feel is not one of the “usual suspects” or register themselves as a candidate.

2. Do you believe climate change is real? If so, what can the United States do to control carbon emissions?

Yes, I do believe there is a change in the climate, as to whether it is due to the actions or inaction on the part of the inhabitants of this planet or natural earth cycles is still in question, even experts can’t agree. My concern that may be shared by many others, is the steps proposed by our government and the international community as far as possible political, social and economic repercussions associated with addressing this issue.  I’m concerned about the polar bears as much as the next person but at what cost?

As a country, we have the capabilities to develop technologies that can address carbon emissions, there are energy generating systems that are currently being developed or in limited use, that can replace current carbon emitting units or “scrub” the emissions to a level that is acceptable. Again it comes down to having the political and economic will to make it happen, although politicians feel that carbon taxing is the best solution.

3. Where do you draw the line between the government’s national security needs and the privacy of its citizens?

Today it seems that everything is by some form or fashion of national security interest. When you talk on the phone and you feel that you have to censor yourself because you’re afraid the NSA or some other government agency might mistakenly take something you say as “chatter” with some domestic or international terror related organization that could be used against you now or at sometimes in the future. Or, your child comes home and tells you that the school had a questionnaire that wants your social contacts as well as other personal information. Are you  suffering from paranoia, unpatriotic or a conspiracy nut if you express concern?

As a former member of the United States Army, I am acutely aware of the fact that there are a lot of ”bad guys” that are more than willing to terminate our way of life, also, that there are domestic as well as foreign enemies.  Where I drew the line in the sand was defined by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

4. Under what circumstances should America go to war?

When it is clearly defined by our intelligence sources that the threat is credible, jeopardizing the safety, security of our country and its citizens and not based on a profit margin sheet for an American corporate interest.

5. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — how should the government continue to support these entitlements? Are reforms necessary?

After carefully researching these government programs and trying to come up with a politically ingenious solution as how to reform these programs and in the process win the Nobel Prize,  I came up with: nothing.

I don’t feel bad because apparently no one else has either or likely to in the near future, not the President, Senate, the House members or any other economic guru.  There have been many proposals and countless debates about how to bring about reform but before there can be reform three items have to be addressed: fraud, waste and incompetence.

On second thought, in today’s political climate large portions of our society have been convinced by certain politically recognized “community/national leaders” that they have been “victimized,” and that they are “owed” something and that they should “collect” whenever possible, to “milk” the system, thankfully there are still many individuals who do not subscribe to this philosophy. The “milkee,” the federal/state governments, are drying up at an accelerated pace and in the not too far future will in some cases be completely dry. There is absolutely no doubt that there are individuals in our society who should be assisted, the system has not always been fair. Even with established government and private agencies there are still many who fall through the cracks.

Instead of allowing those who have and want to share their economic blessing with their fellow citizens who are in need, laws and regulations are put in place to stop these good works.

Instead of promoting and rewarding self- reliance and individual empowerment, politicians and government agencies encourage individuals to seek out and participate in government programs sometimes forcing them against their will into bloated and often mismanaged social programs encouraging dependency of the system in the process lowering their self- esteem. The vast majority of government employees are dedicated to performing their tasks and providing excellent service. Unfortunately, systemic shortfalls need to be addressed which allows many to be ill served. There seems to be an abundance of “bonus money” to go around for selected government workers who too often exhibit many levels of incompetence that sometimes borders on criminality, with comparatively little funding for programs that allow individuals to promote financial independence.

Instead of enforcing the minimum criteria for being allowed to participate in these programs and conducting a complete audit of those currently participating, a political “blind eye” is turned.  Politicians seem to believe that by instituting cost effective measures that the electorate will feel that something is being “taken away” and they will lose votes.  Until there is a collective political will to bring about change there will be no change and we all will pay the price.

6. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?

Total transparency. Before you can ascertain if there is a need for expenditures it should be established the purpose, scope, verifiable projected costs and benefits to the American taxpayers.

7. It has been difficult to bridge the partisan divide in Washington lately. How would you make a difference?

By promoting the fact that as elected officials, they have a sacred duty to the people of this country to act in their best interest and that they have an obligation to future generations of Americans. The political reality is that sometimes there are allowances for compromise but not at the cost to the citizens you represent or any agenda that is detrimental to the nation as a whole.

8. What is your policy on immigration?

As with any country, if you do not secure your borders, national security and sovereignty is compromised, there should be strict enforcement but with compassion. For millions, the United States is the beacon of hope and freedom, those who may have circumvented the system but have lived and worked in the spirit of being a good citizen for an extended period of time,  should be shown compassion but not without a nominal penalty. Those who repeatedly attempt to breach our boarders should be subject to the penalties and/or protections as prescribed by federal law and treated accordingly.

9. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands? 

To perform security operations that protect our nation, state and fulfill any mutually beneficial obligations to our allies, without having a negative impact on the physical, cultural or political interests of the citizens of the state of Hawaii.

10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

Think I said enough, thank you.