Danny De Gracia: Gov. Ige's Job Isn't Done Yet - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Despite having one of the most turbulent and controversial administrations of recent note, Gov. David Ige is winding down his remaining months in office without making too many waves.

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We are now seeing the slow, but steady transition of “Governor” Ige into “Uncle” Ige, where the emphasis will be on goodwill, fond memories and soon saying aloha and mahalo to a public servant.

To be honest, despite all the criticism Ige has received while in office, no one could have foreseen that he would have been handed as many unexpected crises and once-in-a-lifetime challenges as he faced during his term.

Ige’s primary victory over incumbent Neil Abercrombie in 2014 was regarded as a triumph of humility by many and gave some optimism that it might change Hawaii politics for the better.

And had the last two terms seen no global pandemic, no economic upheavals, no environmental disasters, no freak storms, no North Korean saber rattling or any of the bizarre curveballs destiny hurled at us, I suspect Ige would be everyone’s favorite governor.

But the world did not turn out that way, and both our governor’s leadership and our public willpower were tested by fire and many dark nights of the soul. Many times we stumbled, other times we fell, but we collectively got up and worked through our challenges. Hawaii learned to stand – even when it was unbearable – and still stands, to this day.

But we should not be lax in assuming our fight is over, or rest easy thinking that the Ige administration’s twilight has come and now we simply must wait for the next government to come to power.

The chaos and hardship of the last seven-and-a-half years does not yet afford us the space for complacency or the indifference of policy senioritis. Significant problems are still plaguing Hawaii, and Ige still has a lot of work to do before he says aloha to all of us.

The Ongoing Pandemic

Our leaders like to say that we’re in a new phase of needing to manage Covid, rather than treating it as an emergency. However, we are not exactly managing Covid when so many infections are rampant in Hawaii and the ongoing disease is still used as a pretext for long delays in getting routine medical procedures or health checkups.

This is a problem that cannot be allowed to rage in roller coaster cycles and simply handed off to a new government or delegated to county governments. The governor needs to aggressively combat the spread of highly transmissible Covid variants and expand health care capacity before leaving office.

There is also the issue of the rare monkeypox cases reported here in Hawaii. While we have been assured that the disease is not likely to spread and that the situation is under control, Ige needs to personally get involved and make sure that problem stays under control.

This is not a time to allow anything, however seemingly small, to fall through the cracks – Hawaii, after all, has a history of prematurely saying “Don’t worry about it.”

Governor David Ige enters before the Covid-19 press conference held at the Capitol.
Gov. David Ige and others have said Hawaii is in a new phase of needing to manage Covid, rather than treating it as an emergency. But the high number of cases shows action is still needed. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The Economy

We should all be extremely concerned about how quickly the cost of rent, housing, food, energy and everything else in the islands has exploded.

And while it has become a knee-jerk response to say the state can’t do anything about the economy, Ige has broad powers over the enforcement of regulations and tax collection that should be maximally employed to put downward pressure on prices and increase cash-on-hand for the average individual.

For example, Ige could issue executive orders that delay collection of general excise taxes to allow small businesses to have more money in the short term; telework could be employed for government employees to reduce both traffic and the demand for gasoline or consumption of energy; state funding could be used to subsidize the food needs of the poor and most vulnerable; and some regulations that make doing business more expensive in Hawaii could be temporarily waived.

The economic situation both globally and locally feels like a ticking time bomb. It is very possible that things could get even worse before we even make it to the primary election on Aug. 13, let alone the general election in November. This is a time for active, engaged government to respond to the crisis, not to simply let it play out on its own.

Leaving Office On A High Note

Some of the greatest opportunities for acts of innovation, resourcefulness, courage or political leadership can be found in the final months of an outgoing administration. Forget all the things that went wrong during Ige’s two terms, this is now the time to step up and to make things right before the end of this current administration.

The columnist George Will once remarked, “Most of us, most of the time, live in blissful ignorance of what a small, elite, heroic group of Americans are doing for us night and day … We all benefit from it, and the very fact that we don’t have to think about it tells you how superbly they’re doing their job, living on the edge of danger so the rest of us need not think about, let alone, experience, danger.”

I genuinely believe that all good government should operate like that. Ige can make a heroic stand for the people of Hawaii in these final months, working as if this was the beginning of a new era, rather than just the end of his administration. There is still much left to do. Gov. Ige, if you’re reading this, we need you now, more than ever.

Read this next:

Just How Effective Can A Lt. Gov Be In Hawaii?

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Latest Comments (0)

Ige is a good man! But owned by the ruling Party!

Richard · 2 weeks ago

If Ige wants to do something he should go to Washington DC and hound the Biden administration on rapid inflation and fuel relief. It's more important than going to Japan or any other meeting he has on his schedule.

surferx808 · 2 weeks ago

Well said!

KeepingItReal · 2 weeks ago

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