As a recent high school graduate and a college-bound freshman, I have found myself in the interesting position as a first-time voter. With dozens of candidates fighting for key constituencies, I have noticed that one campaign theme has risen above the rest.

After watching more than a few crowded debates and dozens of campaign ads, it seems as though the political theme of “Dump Trump” has dominated the recent political cycle. Which candidate can be the first to combat the Trump administration? Which candidate can best capitalize on the “blue wave” of 2018? Before voters cast their ballots in Hawaii’s key primary elections, now is time to reflect upon the importance of moderation in politics.

Recently, I was most appalled at a statement made by current 1st Congressional District candidate Kaniela Ing during a candidate forum hosted by Olelo Community Media on July 22.

“Let’s not kid ourselves,” stated Ing, in response to a moderator’s question about achieving bipartisanship in the Trump era.

2017 US Capitol Early fall. Constitution Avenue.
A House divided. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

To me and many other disaffected voters, comments like the one made by Ing have led our country astray. How can our state improve if our elected officials have given up on the very basic skill of collaboration? What hope do we have for our future when our leaders are unable to work with others?

It is time to take a stance against those who fight blindly for their cause. That is why I’m asking everyone to vote for moderation in 2018.

As a voter, it seems as though modern politics has become a rigid dichotomy between extreme progressives and staunch conservatives. It seems as though moderates in Hawaii no longer have a person to fight on their behalf. It seems as though bipartisanship has become obsolete, a relic of the past we can look back on and appreciate for its historic value.

Hawaii has a rich history filled with figures across the political spectrum. As a resident, I feel proud to visit the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, knowing his legacy was defined by his self-described moderation and a long list of tangible benefits for our state. It would be a great shame to watch our local elections suffer the same gridlocked fate as the chambers of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

It is time to take a stance against those who fight blindly for their cause.

It is clear that compromise and bipartisanship are not simple solutions. It is hard to take the high road when it seems like so many others are willing to stoop low to score cheap political points. Compromise and collaboration are clearly not the most interesting campaign issues. Voters did not flock to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign because of his “willingness to reach across the aisle.” Unsurprisingly, political rallies touting the value of bipartisanship did not draw in thousands of cheering supporters.

Nevertheless, Hawaii needs balanced, moderate elected officials who are willing to lead our state through difficult times. As we face issues ranging from housing affordability to climate change, Hawaii needs candidates who will achieve realistic solution for complex issues. History shows that bipartisanship has worked miracles in the past. Bipartisan legislation on the federal level has led to extensive funding for medical research, new campaign spending regulations, and large growth for small businesses, just to name a few results.

Moderation, Collaboration

Research has shown that voters favor bipartisan legislation far more than their partisan counterparts. I am so glad to see candidates who make an effort to listen and to collaborate with their ideological opponents. A select few, like former Rep. Ed Case, have made bipartisanship a cornerstone of their campaigns. Candidates like Case have given me a reason to hope for a better future.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for progressive values in Hawaii’s political scene. As a state filled with Democrats of all ideologies, Hawaii should be open to all ideas and solutions. However, when a candidate is clearly unwilling to collaborate with others for the sake of progress, voters have to stand their ground.

Do I think that Hawaii needs to take a leading role in fighting the partisan rhetoric fueled by the Trump administration? Would I support a candidate who fights for my generation and progressive solutions to complex issues? Yes, and yes. But if those goals come at the priceless cost of bipartisanship, moderation and collaboration, I’ll gladly take the latter instead.

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About the Author

  • Jae Yun Ham
    Born and raised in Honolulu, Jae Yun Ham is a freshman at Amherst College in Massachusetts where he is planning to double major in political science and biology. He is a advocate for government accountability and has previously worked with organizations such as Common Cause Hawaii to support voter registration reform.