Danny De Gracia: Our Next Governor Must Not Fail To Lead - 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.

At the end of World War II, Allied leaders were perplexed as to how the German people could permit an extremist leader like Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party to come to power.

Opinion article badge

As soon as hostilities ended, U.S. psychologists were sent to interview thousands of Germans, and a disturbing pattern emerged in which researchers found that peer conformity – the power of social opinions to reshape one’s individual attitudes and behaviors – played a significant role in the rise of the Nazis.

WWII taught western governments a vital lesson that leaders play an important role, good or bad, in the collective evolution and destiny of a society. The power of a leader to influence can be used for great evil, as in the case of the Nazis.

A leader can also influence people to dynamic altruism and courage. But worst of all, a leader can also fail to lead, resulting in an unraveling of society and a loss of moral standards and adherence to truth.

Over the last eight years in Hawaii, we have seen a growing trend of lawlessness and ungovernability in our population. Disruption culture came to a head during the worst moments of the Covid-19 pandemic and especially the contentious 2020 presidential election, which infamously included one of Hawaii’s own residents, Nicholas Ochs, participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.

The worst, however, is still yet to come. As global economic instability and skyrocketing inflation continue to impact Hawaii’s economy, people will only become more agitated, desperate, and unstable – that is, in the absence of leadership that provides focus and moral guidance for the population.

Outgoing Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s weak leadership style did not do any favors for us. During the Thirty Meter Telescope protests and Covid pandemic, his standoffish style and soft approach let the loudest, most unruly members of society reign unimpeded, resulting in the spread of wild conspiracy theories and the rise of radical activists on both the left and right wings of society.

As we prepare to elect our next governor, both Hawaii voters and the candidates running for this crucial position of executive power should consider carefully how we move forward from here. We can ill afford to have another leader that fails to lead, who is unpersuasive in advocating important virtues for society, and who has no grasp of the concept of law and order.

There is also the very real threat of foreign powers intentionally promoting discord and unrest among our populations that now even state and county-level elected officials must be prepared to combat. A decade ago, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned members of Congress that “we are in an information war, and we are losing that war.”

Mrs. Clinton’s words were not without merit, because unbeknownst to many Americans, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most trusted advisor Aleksandr Dugin had already been advocating making the U.S. ungovernable though foreign interference. In Dugin’s international policy blueprint, “Foundations of Geopolitics,” he wrote in 1997:

“It is especially important to introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social, and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the (United States of America). It would also make sense to simultaneously support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”

An ‘Aloha’ sign greets shoppers at the International Marketplace located in the heart of Waikiki despite a recent uptick of Covid-19 cases statewide. January 27, 2021
Hawaii’s reliance on the “aloha” culture is not enough to keep bullies from trampling good people in a society that sees more and more disruptive behavior. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Anyone paying attention to Hawaii’s wild paroxysms of unrest and ungovernability these last eight years knows that we already have a serious problem with disorder, separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts here in the islands. Whether the result of foreign influence or domestic incompetence by our elected officials, it is clear that we cannot allow this to continue and must restore order to chaos with better leadership.

For too long, we have used the nebulous concept of “aloha” as an excuse to do nothing, to show passivity in the face of bullies, to allow good people to be trampled by fringe elements of society, and to preserve a negative peace for the temporary convenience of the present status quo.

Our next governor, whoever that may be, needs to be courageous and bold in setting a standard for Hawaii to follow. This means he must engage in frequent, clear, consistent communication about the issues that matter, what they mean for all of us, and what the public needs to do about it. By showing this kind of guidance, it will maintain focus for the community and prevent bizarre conspiracies and fringe, factional thinking from spreading or intimidating the population.

The next governor also needs to demonstrate leadership by example, and must learn to inspire the community to work together toward shared aspirations and noble goals. We need to do away with the weak sauce “I recommend you consider” style of the current administration and motivate people to be engaged, proactive, alert and committed to the future of Hawaii. When we have a lionhearted leader in office, we will quash injustice, fight against lies and build the kind of society that lifts all of us up, not just a privileged few.

We have so much potential in Hawaii that is wasted because no one trusts each other, everyone wants to do their own thing, and everybody cares only about themselves because our leaders have failed to bring out the best in us.

This has to change, and I am speaking directly to our Democratic and Republican candidates for governor to seriously think about the future of our people here and what role they will play in bringing that future to pass.


Read this next:

Invest In Hawaii’s Child Care Workforce Now


Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service. That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.

Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.

Contribute

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)

At this point in time Green is the overwhelming favorite in the election. Until the Republicans get a strong candidate and the voters really look at them equally and weigh there strengths, we all are gonna be go along get alongs! No progress, but pretty much of the same. Got no faith in political parties!

Richard · 2 weeks ago

The approach to current circumstances expressed in this particular editorial piece backfires, and leads to the opposite of it's stated goal. Weak, dependent people rely on "leaders" to do everything "for" them. What ever happened to each one of us bringing to life in this world the ideals, attitudes, and actions we desire to see, hear, feel, and be a part of? Want to help society? Get out and do it! In any small, direct way you like. When people act on their own natural empowerment, leaders either follow suit and express their strength or don't matter. But we'll never get there by crying for some leader to do it "for" us. Gov. Ige is and has remained an honest, thoughtful public servant. His strength has been in sticking to his principles, even when people criticize. He has been a strong leader, one of the best we've had in years, but some have not taken time to apply the critical thinking skills to understand this.

MathewJohnson · 2 weeks ago

"When we have a lionhearted leader in office, we will quash injustice, fight against lies and build the kind of society that lifts all of us up, not just a privileged few." - "I alone can fix it" - DJ TrumpSound familiar?

oldsurfa · 2 weeks ago

Join the conversation

About IDEAS

IDEAS is the place you'll find essays, analysis and opinion on every aspect of life and public affairs in Hawaii. We want to showcase smart ideas about the future of Hawaii, from the state's sharpest thinkers, to stretch our collective thinking about a problem or an issue. Email news@civilbeat.org to submit an idea.

Mahalo!

You're officially signed up for our daily newsletter, the Morning Beat. A confirmation email will arrive shortly.

In the meantime, we have other newsletters that you might enjoy. Check the boxes for emails you'd like to receive.

  • What's this? Be the first to hear about important news stories with these occasional emails.
  • What's this? You'll hear from us whenever Civil Beat publishes a major project or investigation.
  • What's this? Get our latest environmental news on a monthly basis, including updates on Nathan Eagle's 'Hawaii 2040' series.
  • What's this? Get occasional emails highlighting essays, analysis and opinion from IDEAS, Civil Beat's commentary section.

Inbox overcrowded? Don't worry, you can unsubscribe
or update your preferences at any time.