I follow just 204 people on Twitter, but that includes a lot of retweets from others.

It can be a challenge to keep up with all the traffic, in particular with the social media flood that continually flows from the Twitterer In Chief.

But one local Twitter account has been elevated above the pack in recent months: @OahuDemocrats (721 followers, 545 following, 909 likes and 5,114 tweets and counting).

It’s the account of the Oahu County Democrats, and it’s edgy, informed, literate, aggressive, au courant and sometimes sassy.

It’s also thoroughly biased against Donald Trump, his administration, the Republicans in Congress and conservatives in general.

But that is precisely the point.


A recent and typical screen shot from the Twitter feed of @Oahu Democrats. 

In just the past few days @OahuDemocrats has disparaged the nation for being obsessed with national anthem protests even as Puerto Rico is suffering a major humanitarian crisis because of Hurricane Maria; called Milo Yiannopoulos “a silly right-wing queen who doesn’t yet realize that his 15 minutes are up”; and observed that “while Trump snipes at pro athletes, Angela Merkel wins 4th term and ascends to the leadership of the free world.”

It has also described Donald Trump Jr. as a “pseudo-patriotic concern troll fronting for the Kremlin edition”; posited that Rick Santorum “shoves his head up his own rear and insists that the view is quite lovely”; and described the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal as not an aberration but rather “more like the distilled essence of everything wrong with modern Republicans.”

As well, the account has the dead commenting about the living: quoting William Shakespeare on Mike Pence (“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”), Friedrich von Schiller on Jeff Sessions (“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”) and Franklin D. Roosevelt on Chuck Grassley (“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward”).

Then there are these quotes from Martin Luther King. Jr. pertaining to Fox contributor Tomi Lahren (“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’) and Jimmy Kimmel on Fox’s Brian Kilmeade (“This is a guy, Brian Kilmeade, who whenever I see him kisses my ass like a little boy meeting Batman”).

Oh, and the account also called the new Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King biopic “smartly engaging and depressingly relevant,” a movie that “holds important lessons for the future.”

A Time For Candor

The man behind @OahuDemocrats is Donald Koelper, 57, a consultant to nonprofits and the party’s chair for the region that runs from Kalama Valley to Diamond Head.

“I want people to be candid,” he told me. “The times we live in call for candor.”

Preferring to let his words represent him, the man behind the tweets declined to be photographed for this column.

Koelper, who spent 20 years working for the Hawaii Legislature, says it’s his duty to to get attention, even if it means being a little acerbic. He especially wants to reach younger Democrats, those who rely most on social media.

“It’s about elevating your game here,” he said. “The best way that I can serve the party is to sometimes call people out.”

The account is especially critical of all things Trump, as seen in this tweet referencing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s penchant for private travel at taxpayer expense. 

He does it religiously, first in the morning and later in the day. As of Monday at midday, he had already tweeted 20 times.

According to Twitter, followers include U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Gov. David Ige, former Govs. Ben Cayetano and Neil Abercrombie, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, state Reps. Chris Lee and Della Au Belatti, state Sens. Les Ihara and Will Espero, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu City Councilmen Ernie Martin and Ikaika Anderson, and a bunch of local reporters and former reporters.

“The best way that I can serve the party is to sometimes call people out.” — Donald Koelper

Koelper inherited the Twitter account when Oahu County Committee Chairman Rich Halverson couldn’t find anyone to take over from Teri Heede, who is perhaps best known for her activism in favor of medical marijuana. She had handled the account since its inception in 2013.

“Teri did a pretty good job, and I had a couple of volunteers take over last month, but nobody was doing much,” said Halverson. “I had really liked Don’s tweets, so I said to him, ‘How would you like to do this for the Oahu County Democrats and see how it goes?’”

Halverson said he’s pleased with the results, although he said one complainant expressed the desire that Koelper “tone it down a bit,” as he but it.

No ‘Stinkin Badges!’

That seems unlikely.

Koelper, who talks 100 miles a minute and consumes a lot of news (in particular the Los Angeles Times and the U.S. edition of The Guardian), is very upset by the direction the country is going and what he sees as the mainstream media’s failure to report what’s really going on.

That includes focusing way too much on the emails of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign and way too little on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

(When the news broke Monday that other senior aides to Trump besides Jared Kushner had used private email accounts in the White House, including Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, Koelper tweeted, “And this particular revelation should shock and surprise us — why, exactly?”)

In addition to dishing out Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Koelper also loves to quote from famous movies.

In addition to national and international news, the Twitter account of @Oahu Democrats also opines on local stories. 

Two recent ones came from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” in reference to the Graham-Cassidy bill lacking a Congressional Budget Office evaluation (“Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”) and “Network” to underscore the gravity of the Puerto Rico crisis (“All I know is first, you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!’”).

Heede, who has her own unique style, said it’s important for the party to “get the message out there.”

“I see a lot of interaction, and I see a lot of work,” she said of Koelper’s management of the account. “I like that he is really trying, that he’s trying to meet a certain demographic, and that he is trying to get people to feel that their vote means something.”

Heede’s tweets were informed by her experiences growing up during the 1960s and the Vietnam War, and she hopes that same spirit of involvement can rise again.

“I really like that the younger generation is becoming active instead of just setting in front of their TV and yelling, because Trump is really pushing the limit. People can feel like they don’t have a voice. That’s what Don is trying to do on social media.”

Said Koelper, “If I see something interesting, I will post it. And I hope the articles I put on there that people will want to read it. Because this is stuff that you should know.”

Here’s a selection of recent tweets from @OahuDemocrats:

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