Hawaiʻi media finally seems ready to accept that at this time there is only one viable local party— the Democratic Party (DP). Recent articles concede this, as levels of Republicans are at a historic low. The regressive social issues that Republicans use and play out on the mainland stand in stark contrast to our formative local values and the social “self-concept” we adopted during 1950–‘60. This leaves little room to gain electoral traction without having a “D” after one’s name. Republican seeds are just not generally viable in Hawaiʻi’s political soil.
The real political dynamic, beyond partisanship, is the influence of corporate money that enable “socially liberal” candidates to support and maintain economically regressive policy that has, over time, left the relatively poor local populace overworked, underpaid and crammed into small housing, if not forced to leave the state or become homeless. This means that the actual best determiner of political “character” within the Democratic Party is relationship to corporatism and comfort with establishment power maintenance.
There are of course current pols who are socially and fiscally liberal and desirous of reforms. In the last several election cycles, an increasing number of leaders that fit this mold have begun to emerge and advance the values of an economic equality-based “New New Deal” agenda. This burgeoning coalition is the de facto “second party” in the islands. The fact that it is happening within the DP label is the deep story the mainstream press seems finally willing to embrace. Labeling this party-within-a-party, by association, with a particular national presidential campaign from the 2016 election cycle is perhaps a further distraction from the issue and policy substance.
Clearly, despite the good weather, beautiful nature and friendly people, there is the perceived need in Hawaiʻi for a shift in economic policy to deal with the long, slow slide into a system that is harsh, alienating and displacing of locals, the working class, the poor, the youth, the elderly and Native Hawaiians. So how is this change effectively and efficiently made? While a significant awakening and influx of energy has been made into the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi itself, it is the ballot—and the resulting ascendance to elected office—that is the ultimate route for leaders looking for change.
Emerging grassroots candidates, many of them women, some of them relatively young, have stepped up in 2018 to run as Democrats. They subscribe to traditional Democratic social and economic values (of both the national New Deal and local Dem Revolution of ’50–’60) that they are seeking to reapply to our modern local society. They want to further “deal and cut-in” minorities and dismantle the patriarchal, racist, ageist and neocolonial underpinnings of economic inequality.
Substantively, they are for universal health care, living wages, progressive taxation, public works, environmental preservation, local self-determination and restoration for Hawaiians. They shun “trickle down” economics, off-shore big corporate dominance, land monopoly and rampant top market development as an engine of displacement. For these candidates, removing the overwhelming influence of money and special interests from politics and ending stagnant “austerity” policies for the non-rich is a must.
So, if you want to support systemic change in Hawaiʻi, vote in the primary. First, we need to survey the primary territory for potential. The dynamics in this article and the list of Senate, House and Council matchups below can guide voters to making informed decisions at the ballot box that could radically change the course for Hawaiʻi that we have found ourselves on. Second, if you have a choice, evaluate the platform, record and donations to the candidates. Third, network your choice with family, friends, colleagues and community. Forth, if you see candidates you like outside your district, network them. Also identify “slates” of similarly valued candidates, or ones endorsed by trusted grassroots coalitions or organizations for networking and sharing on social media.
With a concerted effort and good voter turnout, we can make change in ways that have not materialized for several decades. Use the following guides, broken down by county, for your evaluations. Visit the links for the candidates and various media covering them, participate in dialog with them and maybe contact a campaign to volunteer. Also consider volunteering in your municipality to work the polls on election day.
If change is your primary concern, show up to vote in the Democratic Primary on August 11, or take advantage of early voting and same day registration options. The General election will be anticlimactic if you don’t create the potential difference in the Primary. And keep showing up every election cycle: “change” cuts in all directions, as we have learned in the past decades. Things can only be corrected, made better or maintained over time by showing up, doing the work and participating democratically toward principled good governance.
Evaluating Change Opportunity in the 2018 Hawaii Primary
The following is an analysis of the primary match ups with a focus on Democrats. It shows several dynamics that can aid a change-oriented voter in research. We do have many excellent incumbents in the islands. Therefore, the intent in promoting change is to expose voters to options that make primary candidate evaluation easier and prevents a simple default to name recognition or incumbent advantage. Any incumbent worth their Democrat title should appreciate the tenets and application of democracy presented in these guides.
Look at the basic criteria and both/all of the candidates platforms and positions. Ask if the imperative for change is within the district, county or overall system. Evaluate based on substantive criteria, research, community engagement and nature of campaign donors. Many incumbents do have excellent character and experience and are more independent. They have had to work within a framework to be effective. But they should also be aware of, and be addressing the need for, change in their campaigns.
Consider the following factors in considering who to vote for, and consider the strategic aspects within Primary and General election dynamics:
1. Option. Do you have one? Did somebody competent step up to run in the primary? Are they the best candidate for the general election as well?
2. Platform. What issues and values does this person stand for? Are they in line with your values? Do they fit well with the party? Would they work well in the legislature or as governance?
3. Record. Do they have a researchable history of public votes, testimony, advocacy, work, affiliation donations, etc.? Does that record conflict with what they are saying in their platform, speeches, debates and ads?
4. Corporatism. What are their business affiliations and sources or personal and campaign money? Do they legislate or vote in favor of corporate interest over public interest?
5. Money Sources. Do they take substantial corporate or PAC money? Who else of what character donates to them? Do they have a hui affiliation that reveals an agenda?
6. Patriarchy. The empire and system are based on some long term, negatively impactful societal characteristics: patriarchy, oligarchy, classicism, racism, ageism, xenophobia, militarism, etc. Is a candidate a guardian to those precepts or a change agent?
7. Women. The most obvious and underrepresented pool of competent people who might hold office are women. If a female candidate is an option and their politics are as good or better then an incumbent, consider voting for them. Encourage and support competent women to run at all levels. Women are a known strong agent of change in any place they are empowered.
8. Age. Young people have valuable skills and perspective for a vibrant democracy (the average age of prominent U.S. Founders was 29). They also need to get experience. If a system has not changed or there is a quality young candidate running, consider support. Encourage and support competent young people to run at all levels.
The Hawaii Independent County Primary Guides:
Hawaii County Primary Election Guide
Statewide Election & Media Links:
Early Voting- Mail & Walk In
Early walk-in dates are as follows: Primary Election: Monday, July 30 - Thursday, August 9
Campaign Spending Reports
Search by Name or Office; Click name, click ‘View Report’ for 7.31.17 and 1.30.18 ‘Schedule A- Contributions Received’
US Census- State Legislative District Maps
Hawaii Elections 2018: Primary Ballot for candidates and general information. #HawaiiElection2018
Hawaii Elections: Civil Beat guide. The primary election is on Saturday, Aug. 11. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6, a date set by federal law and the same throughout the nation. It’s a state holiday in Hawaii. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. #HawaiiElection2018