Denby Fawcett: Feeling Grateful That Voters Opted For Sanity This Year - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Denby Fawcett

Denby Fawcett is a longtime Hawaii television and newspaper journalist, who grew up in Honolulu. Her book, Secrets of Diamond Head: A History and Trail Guide is available on Amazon. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.

Opinion article badgeI am grateful the Republicans’ predicted “red tsunami” sweep to midterm power was a bust. One of the brightest spots of the election was the GOP’s repudiation of Donald Trump’s handpicked, under-perfoming candidates.

Democrats squeaked through to hold bare minimum power in the Senate and although the GOP may be ahead in the House, it is only by a handful of seats. Most important for future election stability, Trump’s election denying sycophants lost their bids to be attorneys general and secretaries of state in key battleground states.

“This was a gut check on American sanity, and fortunately, we passed (although not with honors). There was just enough recognition that the country cannot surrender to paranoia and violence,” said Bruce Cain, a political science professor at Stanford University.

And locally, instead of “same old, same old” Democrat domination, it was uplifting to see a smattering of Republicans break through the blue wall and emerge as winners. An uptick from five to eight Republicans in the Legislature was not a red wave but definitely a low tide wavelet.

Now, Hawaii will have its highest number of Republican lawmakers in office since 2014 when there were nine. Never mind that 22 Republican state lawmakers were elected in 2000.

As political analyst Neal Milner says, “It is a small step forward to save the Republican party here from extinction.”

It’s encouraging to think that voters embraced the message that this election was about protecting the future of democracy. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2022

The party is taking all the praise it can for carefully strategizing to win in Oahu’s purple districts even though two of the GOP victories were probably due mostly to the failed campaigns of Democrats Sharon Har and Matt LoPresti, who appeared unrepentant earlier this year after their alleged drunken driving cases were dismissed.

Hawaii is unlikely to ever turn Republican, but a tiny loyal opposition like the one that emerged this year offers hope for criticism of the status quo. A few Republican officeholders — unafraid of political blowback — might be brave enough to cry foul in an effort to keep the state from drowning in another sea of corruption.

Although its unlikely Hawaii will ever again sink to its current depths with former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha serving a seven year federal prison term, his deputy prosecutor wife also locked up for 13 years and two Honolulu police officers in federal prison for helping the Kealohas in the mailbox conspiracy.

Then there are the three city officials federally charged with conspiracy for their alleged roles in a $250,000 payoff deal for the disgraced Chief Kealoha. A state senator incarcerated for three years for taking bribes and a House member awaiting sentencing in January on similar bribery charges.

Four Honolulu building department employees — current and former — pleaded guilty to taking bribes, and former Maui county official Stewart Stant was charged with taking more than $2 million in bribes.

The GOP newbies lack sufficient numbers to pass their own legislation, but they can talk stink if Democrat bills calling for harsher prison sentences for corruption get shelved.

“Fighting corruption and building trust with voters are our key goals,” GOP State Chairwoman Lynn Finnegan said Friday in a phone call.

GOP Chairwoman Lynn Finnegan cheers as election results show Republicans making slight gains in Hawaii. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2022

Finnegan regrets the GOP did not push harder on the corruption issue throughout the election cycle but says it will be  different going forward.

“Corruption is a good issue for us,” she said.

However, nothing is going to change local government’s approach to corruption — no matter how many new laws are passed — unless there is the will to enforce them and oversight commissions are willing to do what they are charged to do.

A key problem with curtailing corruption in Hawaii is repeated often in interviews by former federal public defender Alexander Silvert. Silvert says Hawaii does not have more or less corruption than other areas in the country, but it lacks whistleblowers and introspection.

On the national front, it’s encouraging to think voters embraced the Democrats’ message that this election was about protecting the future of Democracy — a plea pundits on both sides wrongly predicted would lead to a massive defeat for the party.

Another positive was the push by voters to protect abortion rights in states where it was an issue on the ballot. It was moving to see many men and women come together in the face of continuing assaults after the Supreme Court upended nearly 50 years of federal protection for women’s rights with its ruling in the Dobbs case.

The country is just as divided as it was before the election, but the fact that it could have been so much worse is enough to leave the smallest glimmer of hope for better days ahead.


Read this next:

Chad Blair: The ‘Rainbow Wave’ Election Touches Hawaii’s Shores


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About the Author

Denby Fawcett

Denby Fawcett is a longtime Hawaii television and newspaper journalist, who grew up in Honolulu. Her book, Secrets of Diamond Head: A History and Trail Guide is available on Amazon. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.


Latest Comments (0)

One would think that watching their 401k turn into a 101k, power bills doubling and 6 dollar gas might snap some people out of the trance, but apparently we haven’t hit the rock bottom that the addicts talk about yet.

RedStateHawaii · 2 weeks ago

As someone who doesn't identify as red or blue, it's continually disappointing that people vote along party lines and party lines only. Did you know you can vote for all dems or all repubs one fell swoop at the polls? Ugh. Both of these parties are so self serving, they can't even see how similar they are. Keep dividing the nation into two parties. It's work so well for us these last 40 years. I just want intelligent, well read, empathetic, and diplomatic people in office. Sprinkle in some term limits and bill sunsetting and we're going places again. I'm not thrilled about the potential of having to vote between two men over the age of 80 for the presidency.

AlohaJ · 2 weeks ago

Trump's endorsement to win rate could be as high as 87.5%. I'd say that's pretty darn good. On the low end, 50% which is batting .500Not bad.

NDN · 2 weeks ago

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