Turning marchers into voters, learning from the revolution of ’54

On March 28, 2019, over 2,500 Kaua’i residents marched on Rice Street. On O’ahu, over 20,000 marched through Waikiki. Similarly, on Maui and in Hawai’i County – thousands marched – For, justice and for Aloha ‘Āina.

Depending on the exact district, it can take less than 2,500 votes to win a State House seat and 7,500 votes to be a State Senator (some districts more and some districts less).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what could come next.

Imagine what could happen if those who marched were all registered to vote, all actually did vote, and their votes were focused on qualified credible candidates who supported their world view.

The potential for change is palpable.

Because all legislative decisions are driven by a “majority” and assuming there are already some legislators holding office now who share the values of those who marched – only a relative handful of newly elected individuals are needed to achieve bold systemic change.

Hypothetically speaking of course – if one wanted to plan or plot a Hawai’i political revolution – a very rough, “back of the envelope” estimate of the number of newly elected individuals needed might be as follows.

State House of Representatives: 51 Representatives total, thus a majority is 26.
State Senate: 25 Senators total, thus a majority is 13.

There are a handful of champions in both the House and the Senate, and numerous others who, when the crunch comes, will “do the right thing”.

Consequently, it is not necessary for those who seek a revolution, to achieve a clean sweep of all seats. In addition, because of the “multiple faction” nature of organizational leadership, electing even just 12 new legislators in 2020 would equate to a political earthquake not seen since the often heralded “Democratic Revolution of 1954”.

Of course, more is better, but the election of even just 12 new legislators who embrace the values of Aloha ‘Āina, put people and the planet above corporate greed and who recognize the urgency of the moment – would be huge.

The history is important:
“The Hawai’i Democratic Revolution of 1954 was a nonviolent revolution that took place in the Hawaiian Archipelago consisting of general strikes, protests and other acts of civil disobedience. The Revolution culminated in the territorial elections of 1954 where the long reign of the Hawai’i Republican Party in the legislature came to an abrupt end, as they were voted out of the office to be replaced by members of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i…” Wikipedia

While the “Revolution of 1954“ was driven largely by the labor movement, history will look back at the “Revolution of 2020” and see that it was the “Aloha ‘Āina” movement accompanied by a strong “progressive base” that fueled the change.

The “in-your-face injustice” now occurring in Hawai’i that pertain to issues of economic, environmental and social justice added to the heightened cultural awareness and ongoing “Hawaiian Renaissance” – has created an ideal environment for the revolution now occurring.

The litany of historical abuse and injustice heaped upon the Hawaiian people is no longer buried in the history books written by their oppressors.

The mismanagement of our natural resources is self-evident, on every island.

The selling of public trust resources to the highest bidder, the diversion and ultimately killing of our streams, reefs and nearshore waters, the development of our sacred and once-pristine spaces – All it seems, facilitated by government agencies who see environmental regulations as impediments to development, rather than valuable public resource protections.

Government agencies charged with regulating various industries now seem owned by those same industries.

The multinational agrochemical industry continues to pollute both our drinking water and our nearshore oceans. Government is aware and does nothing.

Meanwhile the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, and their enablers in government wring their hands and offer excuses for their inaction.

Hawai’i legislators will be getting their pay increases – while minimum wage workers will get nothing.

Government sweeps away our houseless brothers and sisters while facilitating the construction of luxury high-rises and multi-million dollar homes.

And criminal justice reform? Our government finds it’s easier and cheaper to just ship Hawai’i citizens off to private prisons in Arizona.

Some will say that I am being too hard on the good people now sitting in public office. They are trying their best, these issues are complicated and some meaningful progress is being made.

Others will say that I am not being hard enough. Simply trying your best, complaining about the complexity of the issues and taking baby steps while the world is crumbling down upon us – equates to gross negligence and is unacceptable.

A close friend told me once, “Remember Gary, the “Revolution of ’54” did not actually happen in ’54…it happened in ’48, ’50, ’52 and then culminated in ’54.“

In any case, the revolution is upon us. Tens of thousands of new Hawai’i voters will be showing up in August, of this I am sure. New credible and qualified candidates, who share the Aloha ‘Āina world view and a mindset that put people and the planet first, are already beginning to throw their hats in the political ring – on every island.

More are sure to follow.

Political revolutions of the non-violent sort, are important and necessary. Complacency and corruption increasingly infect the body politik. The swinging of the pendulum is inevitable.

Please, if you have not already done so, register to here: https://olvr.hawaii.gov/


Gary Hooser
First published November 6th, 2019 in The Garden Island Newspaper.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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9 Responses to Turning marchers into voters, learning from the revolution of ’54

  1. Walter Ritte says:


    • garyhooser says:

      Thank you Walter. Let’s do this.

      • Frank DeGiacomo says:

        All it takes is people (a lot) with tablets or smart phones and a large number of progressives in one place.

      • garyhooser says:

        Agree! I am looking for partners who want to help put together an organized, and focused effort – go district by district. 1,000 new voters in each district times at least 20 districts – kaboom…

    • Frank DeGiacomo says:

      How about we start on the low hanging fruit first: colleges. Additionally, doesn’t it behoove progressive candidates running for office to expand the electorate? If every candidate does maybe a thousand it will add up statewide. When I ran for the House I signed up a bunch of new people without really trying too hard – just a few days of canvassing poor communities. It wasn’t intended for large numbers but rather to attract attention to them as a voting block to have their votes sought after. It worked pretty well. But if candidates who focus on eligible voter-rich communities would have it be easy. And of course if the unions would *act* progressive at least, they could do a lot of voter registration. Then there are the volunteer rich grassroots groups.

      • garyhooser says:

        Agree. We need someone to organize and lead it. Someone with the time, knowledge and drive…someone on each island. And IMHO, we need to fundraise and pay at least the 4 core organizers.

    • Frank DeGiacomo says:

      Hawai`i People’s Fund? https://www.hawaiipeoplesfund.org/

  2. Kimi Tafaoimalo says:

    Mahalo piha Gary Hooser!

    • garyhooser says:

      Working together, bringing together all of the different people and groups who share the common values of putting people and the planet first, aloha aina…we can do this.

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