Civil Beat staff published a commentary in its February 27 issue. In it, the writers characterized the Hawaii Republican Party as being out of touch. It also stated that the party is becoming irrelevant in state politics.  They also warned that a lack of diversity, otherwise known as the loyal opposition, was a dangerous thing.  I couldn’t agree more.

The Hawaii Republican Party leadership has been criticized for not providing that leadership. This is understandable since it appears it is more concerned with its own survival by stymying moves to oust them by focusing on party procedural rules. This is sort of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it is sinking.

There are problems to be solved that affect all Hawaiians. Up to now it appears the Hawaii Republican Party has failed to offer a viable vision of what it perceives as a different path to these issues than their Democratic rivals. How can this be accomplished when party leadership is more concerned with Robert’s Rules of Order and not focusing on the substance at hand?

Rep. Beth Fukumoto holds a press conference in March, 2017 to announce she’s leaving the Republican Party.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

There is the issue of image. The Republican Party suffers from a poor one. It is considered the party of the privileged and predominantly old and white. If these demographics prove out then the party must take a serious look at how it packages itself. Regardless of the substance, there is a need for an awful lot of public relations work and educating people about what Republicans are really about.

Consider the history of the parties. Democrats have long since been considered the party of inclusion and progressive. Yet history tells us it was the Republicans who were the modernists and pressed vigorously for the abolition of slavery while the Democrats fought to maintain the status quo.

Recently, Beth Fukumoto was forced from her position as minority leader due to her opposition of President Trump. I am reminded of what one of the Republican Party’s sages said:

“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.” – Ronald Reagan

If Ms. Fukumoto stepped over the twenty-percentile line then perhaps she did belong in the opposition party. However, Ms. Fukumoto represented one of the demographics that have been elusive to the Republicans and that is the younger crowd and of an ethnic group that doesn’t scream Daughters of the American Revolution. Was it wise to push her into the opposition camp? Did she not represent one or more of the demographics Republicans should be recruiting? Too late now. And that is the danger Republicans in this state face – the one that Civil Beat has labeled irrelevant.

But there is hope. Recently, a young and vibrant woman, born and raised in Mililani and who has proved her mettle, is taking a stance and is running for the chairmanship of the party leadership.  She is retired Air Force Colonel Shirlene Dela Cruz Ostrov. Yet she faces the good old boy network whose center is self preservation. This policy is proving to be self-destructive. Just count the number of Republicans in the state house and senate.

It is my sincere hope that in the coming election for the party’s chairmanship, games are not played and those who have held the power in the party recognize the need for change. I would ask them to step aside and allow a fresh breeze to blow through the party and revitalize it. If they don’t, they just might be out of a job by default.

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About the Author

  • Victor Craft
    Victor Craft is a retired aerospace worker having functioned as an FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplants Technician, Logistician and Quality Assurance director working on several major weapons systems. Vic also served tours of duty with the armed forces in Vietnam, Kenya and the United Kingdom.