Mail ballots have arrived, early walk-in voting begins Tuesday, and already in Hawaii there’s a palpable sigh in the air of “Here we go again!”
We’ve seen this election movie replay more times than “Forrest Gump.” Local Democrats who won their primaries get crowned in the November general, and defeated Republicans get to host their biennial conference call explaining to candidates why they lost and why they should run again.
As for the ballot questions, the one out of two registered voters who actually show up are likely so confused or intimidated by the obtuse language that they’ll knee-jerk vote “no” or leave the fields blank. In the end, political insiders and mega-corporations live happily ever after — just like they always do — even though we supposedly stuck it to Mr. Big by electing a new generation of promising, liberal activists to office.
I can already imagine the dichotomy of high-powered corporate and partisan lobbyists together at the same post-election cocktail party, toasting flutes of Dom Perignon over how both the ConCon and education ConAm got shot down. “That’s called detente,” jokes an investor to a labor lobbyist. “You don’t have it, and I don’t have it!”
It’s hana hou to here we go again in 2018 — unless we do something different.
To begin, every single Hawaii voter needs to take the straw out of their milk glass, unplug the night light in their bedroom, and stop being afraid of political boogeymen by voting “yes” for a ConCon.
No matter whether you are a moderate, liberal, progressive, conservative, or libertarian, all of us have something to gain by coming together to revisit our state constitution.
ConCon opponents say that we shouldn’t have one because it would cost too much money. Suddenly everyone’s a fiscal hawk when it comes to letting people have their say, but whenever the establishment apparatchiks want to drop big-ticket, billion-dollar mandates on our heads, their pet projects are termed “investing in our future.”
ConCon opponents also claim that special interests will have a field day taking away our rights and shredding our state constitution. If that’s true, why are special interests that spend every legislative session fighting each other now united as a single front against the ConCon?
At the height of the civil rights movement, despite being stifled by segregationist laws and frustrated by racist public opinions in the Deep South, Martin Luther King Jr. still had the intestinal fortitude to have faith in democracy when he said, “Give us the ballot!”
King trusted the people more than he trusted an elected legislature. We need a dose of King’s courage here in Hawaii, and we need to paniolo-up and just say “yes” to a ConCon.
Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Marissa Kerns also raised an interesting point when she suggested in multiple debates the preferred liberal ticket would have been Colleen Hanabusa and Jill Tokuda, not David Ige and Josh Green. If that’s true, Democrats should consider the windfall that would come from having a Republican governor to compete against, rather than a Democrat to overshadow them.
Alexander Hamilton famously wrote, “If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose and for whom we are not responsible … the party in the hands of whose chief it shall sink will sink with it and the advantage will be all on the side of his adversaries.”
Donald Trump’s presidency has given Democrats a casus belli to recruit and fundraise against, even as Barack Obama helped Republicans build their current majority. The correct local strategy to bring out the most ideologically zealous and most competent Democrats is to have two different parties in the Legislature and governor’s office.
There are also big problems that can’t be fixed without electoral blowback on the horizon. Education still needs more money, as do countless other state programs. Worse yet, an economic boom always comes with an economic bust, which even the State Council on Revenues admitted may happen between now and 2025.
If Gov. Ige wins re-election, he will be left holding the bag for more unpopular taxes, not to mention a bad economy. Democrats would be shrewd to let a Republican take the seat this time, as they were when they elected Linda Lingle in 2002.
Ultimately, America’s founders envisioned the rights of all being secured by a multiplicity of views in elected government, not supermajorities. If you want better Democrats, vote Republican … and vice-versa. The boat needs to be rocked.
The people have the power to force change at the ballot, starting this week. You know what you need to do. Prove the experts — and the pollsters — wrong. Get out there and vote.
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