Dan Gluck's Confirmation Process Showed What Democracy Looks Like - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Gary Hooser

Gary Hooser is the board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action and the executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

Dan Gluck should be commended for recognizing his position and withdrawing his name from consideration for appointment to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. For me, this seals his reputation as a stand-up guy, a man of character willing to do what is necessary to improve his community. Mahalo, Dan.

Those who were willing to speak out and testify in opposition to his appointment, are the real heroes. Without their willingness to speak truth to power, it would have been systemic racism as usual — with most of us not even realizing that it was occurring.

Mr. Gluck recognized this himself stating, “Opponents of my appointment, particularly members of the Bar, were courageous in voicing their deeply rooted, legitimate grievances regarding the ways in which systemic racism and inequality permeate our lives. They are correct that it is not easy to oppose a judicial nominee. They are correct that every one of us has an obligation to do more to right historic injustice.”

We should also applaud Sens. Jarrett Keohokalole, Laura Acasio, Donna Mercado Kim, and Kurt Fevella for responding to the community, listening to their na‘au, and taking a tough stance against an honorable man in support of justice and the greater good.

This is what democracy and true leadership looks like.

State ethics Commission Director Dan Gluck. 11 aug 2016
State Ethics Commission Director Dan Gluck in 2016. He withdrew his name from a state judiciary appointment last week. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2016

As a white male, I often struggle to understand the core of this issue. But I have come to realize that systemic racism is almost never a conscious decision to favor one race over another. It happens innocuously, over time, from one benign appointment of a good white guy over a more qualified Hawaiian woman to the next, and the pattern continues until someone steps in and makes the uncomfortable decision to stop it.

I do not know Dan Gluck well at all. I have communicated with him on issues in the past and he has always conducted himself professionally and with integrity. Most would say that his values align to a great extent with mine and other self-identified “progressives.”

This issue, however, rises above that basic standard and goes to the fundamental nature of governance.

Decision-making occurs through the lens of the decision maker. White cisgender men view the world through an entirely different lens than that of women of color. People whose life experience is grounded in the privilege of wealth likewise see things differently than those who were born into poverty. Whether the lens is one of class, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or other unique life circumstances — each individual makes decisions grounded in their own life experience.

Yes, many of us do our best to understand the perspective of others, to empathize, and attempt to make good and thoughtful decisions accordingly. But an uncomfortable truth is that unless we have walked in their shoes, we cannot truly understand, nor can we truly view the same world as those who come from a wholly different place in life.

To ensure the most equitable and the highest quality decision-making possible, every governing body whether elected or appointed, needs to reflect the community it represents. The best decision-making for the whole will come about only when a community’s diversity is represented in its governing institutions.

Decision-making occurs through the lens of the decision maker.

Sen. Chris Lee took to the floor for 10 to 15 minutes during the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing, essentially saying, “I recognize that white and AJA males dominate the political power landscape in Hawaii, but we shouldn’t make this decision based on race or gender.”

This sentiment that sounds so reasonable to so many is quite frankly, the epitome of privilege. Most who sit on the side of that privilege won’t even see the irony.

Uncomfortable Truth

Sen. Laura Acasio, however, during this same hearing faced the uncomfortable truth head on saying, “Systemic racism is embedded in every aspect of this vote … if we keep kicking the can down the road, and we don’t address those issues — literally today — then it’s just a pipe dream that it will ever happen.”

“At present, there are no native Hawaiian, Filipino, Pacific Islander, or African American judges at the Supreme Court or the ICA,” said a letter from the House Native Hawaiian Caucus.

The goal of any appointment process it to identify an individual who will bring the most value to the position. As Dan Gluck said in withdrawing his name from the process, “The community deserves judges who bring all of us closer rather than fracturing us further.

The other nominees on the list have extraordinarily impressive credentials; any one of them can, and will, serve the ICA with distinction.”

The next step is for Gov. David Ige to look again at the remaining list of five nominees, and send a new name to the Senate for confirmation. My hope is that he has learned and grown through this process, as I and many others have — and that he will choose a nominee that is both highly qualified and who represents those segments of the community now missing from the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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About the Author

Gary Hooser

Gary Hooser is the board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action and the executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

Latest Comments (0)

Dan would not have been treated the way he was treated but for the color of his skin and his Y chromosome. It was textbook racism and sexism. The doublespeak/doublethink in this article is absolutely terrifying.

more_minutes · 2 years ago

I disagree with those who think Dan Gluck was not as qualified as other candidates.  He is outstandingly qualified.  He has given a lot of stellar service to our state.  Harvard Law School is in the very top tier of U.S. law schools.  I suspect that if Ige had nominated a woman of color with a background similar to Dan's, she would not have been opposed on the basis of her qualifications 

Democracy101 · 2 years ago

Racism just seems like an odd tool to use to fight systemic racism.

justsaying · 2 years ago

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