Expecting more from our candidates

Putting today's CD1 race into historical perspective

Ikaika M Hussey

Over the past several days we’ve published a series of interviews with the candidates for Hawaii’s Democratic candidates for the first congressional district. Tom Coffman, Gerald Kato, Mari Matsuda, and myself conducted six interviews. (The seventh Democratic candidate, Joey Manahan, wasn’t available.)

We decided to pursue one-on-one interviews for several reasons. In a large debate there would be very little time for candidates to respond, and it would be difficult for moderators to ask follow-up questions. The social dynamics of debates also tend to feature pleasantries which distract from the important discussion.

You’ll notice from the audio recordings that we focused on the big questions at hand. Israel and Palestine. Chinese territorial ambitions. The Trans-Pacific Partnership. Climate Change. There are major, profound questions that a Congressperson must wrestle with, and it requires a dextrous, broad mind, capable of grappling with global realpolitik, economics, and social issues.

The office at stake has had a luminous history of occupants. Prince Kuhio, a Hawaiian patriot who was imprisoned for supporting the Queen, and who went on to establish the Hawaiian Homelands. Robert Wilcox, a Hawaiian chief who studied military tactics under Garibaldi in Italy, and led an armed insurrection against Dole. Tom Gill, leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Patsy Mink, the hero of Title IX. Daniel Inouye, probably the most important figure of modern Hawaiian history.

Our position is that we expect the same kind of greatness from the contemporary occupants of this seat. The US faces an incredible inflection point in its history: between ecological chaos, military technocracy, and plutocratic largesse on one hand; and on the other, equitable distribution of incredible technological and economic bounty. The laws that Congress makes will have a bearing on that direction.

This would be a challenging time for any statesman. But we need and deserve that kind of leadership now.