Danny De Gracia: GOP Candidates Need To Get Serious And Fight — Now - 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.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office, Vice President Harry S. Truman told the press, “I don’t know if any of you have had a bale of hay fall on you. Well, I feel like the sun, the stars, and all the planets just fell on me.”

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Hawaii’s primary is over. As the anti-Establishment party in one of the most chaotic moments in our nation’s history, the immense responsibility of advocating sound, credible policy alternatives has just dropped on the heads of the Hawaii Republican Party.

Now one might say that having Republicans on the ballot is merely to give people a choice, even if they don’t actually win. But the real issue at stake is that if you choose to run as a Republican in a state where everything is broken and nearly everyone in office is a Democrat, there are people who are counting on you to be serious about reform.

Let’s conduct a brief thought exercise. Say you’re a blue collar worker barely making ends meet, who lives in a place like Kalihi, Lower Waipahu or Waianae. You’ve seen your grocery and gas bills skyrocket this year, and now you find out that your energy bills are going to go up too, because Democrats dropped the ball on properly planning Oahu’s energy production.

To make matters worse, you and your spouse work multiple jobs and barely see your kids, who you send off to either their grandparents or friends who babysit them. When you finally come home from work, you’re mentally exhausted, your joints hurt and the only thing you can think about is eating dinner and going to sleep so you can get up early tomorrow to beat traffic on H-1 and repeat the whole process.

You’re tired, you’re agitated and you’re not even financially well off enough to be one of those types who flees to Texas, Florida, or South Carolina because they can’t handle Oahu anymore.

This is the first time that you voted in an election, because things are so bad, and maybe you don’t even entirely understand all of the issues, but you desperately need a change, so you voted Republican. The reason you didn’t vote in prior elections and didn’t participate in local politics was not because you were lazy, ignorant, uninspired or any of the other things that snobby elites accuse non-voters of, but because you work so hard you can’t think about anything else but survival.

So now you hear that if you want a better life, vote Republican. And you believe it. But unbeknownst to you and your family, many of the Republicans on your ballot are just there to be there and aren’t aggressively putting in the work to actually figure out how to fix Hawaii or get elected to office. They’re not Republican for a reason; they’re Republican for a season.

And when your Republican candidates in your district lose the general election, you take it personally, because for you, that was your only hope for escape from the daily, soul-breaking grind you face on Oahu.

Republicans, if you’re not staying awake at night worried about the fate of that blue collar worker and his family, you’re not doing your job. And frankly, when we see how many Republican candidates are approaching this election in such a lackadaisical fashion, you really wonder what is the point of being on the ballot in the first place.

Republicans are supposed to be the patriots, not the pushovers.

Republicans gathered at a primary election night watch party to await the first results. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2022

Here’s another problem. It’s nice that Gov. Linda Lingle’s former lieutenant governor, Duke Aiona, has just won his third Republican gubernatorial primary here in Hawaii. Don’t hate me for saying this, but has anyone stopped to ask how many times should a former elected official run for the top office before it starts to hinder new voices and new ideas?

This is not like Miss Hawaii USA pageants where you compete until you win and if you lose, you’re still a celebrity for life. When you send someone to the general election and they lose again and again, there are major consequences both for the party and for voters.

And on that note, maybe Republicans should change things up a little and run more local or international celebrities for office here in Hawaii next cycle, because if you can’t beat the Democratic establishment with policy, maybe you can beat them with star power.

The November general election will come sooner than you think. Republican candidates better not think to themselves, “I’ll just do milquetoast TV interviews, wave signs and be the faithful opposition, because the Democrats are going to win anyway.” If you think like that, not only have you already lost the election, but the people counting on you to make a difference have lost their chance for change.

In 1944, a group of tiny “tin can” U.S. escort destroyers came into contact with a superior force of Imperial Japanese heavy cruisers and battleships. Rather than fleeing, the commander of the sparse American force told his fellow ship captains, “This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.” History records that tiny American fleet succeeded at repelling their Japanese opponents.

That same kind of devotion and go-get ’em spirit needs to consume Hawaii Republican candidates for the general election. This will be a fight against overwhelming odds. But if you truly believe you have the solutions to fix Hawaii, isn’t that something you should fight for wholeheartedly?

Read this next:

Lee Cataluna: Thanks For Not Being A Chump This Election Season

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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)

Hawaii needs renewal by obtaining Home Rule, which it has been long denied. Home Rule is independent cities, school systems with county and state government that encourage and support both, and much more. It requires a citizenry that understands government is their responsibility and the closer it is to the people the better. Enough of the baked-in-the-cake pollical monopoly system (50 years republican-68 years democrat) its time for fearless reform and Home Rule!

pablocruize · 5 months ago

Republicans as the party of blue collar workers? The party that loves to bust unions, get rid of pesky health and safety regulations, keep the minimum wage just that, and on and on? Hmmm.

Fred_Garvin · 5 months ago

Ironically in the earlier part of the 1900s, the Republican Party in Hawaii strongly supported the large business entities (Big 5), that oppressed the "blue-collar worker" used in this analogy, which ultimately gave rise to the unions and eventual Democratic Party dominance in the latter part of the 1900s. Republicans were the authors of their own demise it seems.Is the Republican Party different now? Maybe, maybe not. It depends who you ask. Regardless the people of Hawaii, predominantly the ancestors of the plantation workers (not owners), continue the tradition of voting the way their parents/grandparents did.Thus many right-leaning, aspiring politicians need to swallow their pride and join the Democratic Party in order to win, which is why we're not as "progressive" as States like CA, NY, OR, WA, etc... We have a good number of DINOs in office.And for those claiming that unions skew the power balance in elections... Remember that unions comprise of people who vote for their collective interest, which is no different than a non-union person voting for their best interest too.

basic_citizen123 · 5 months ago

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