The Myth of Democrats Controlling Politics and Government in Hawaii

Hawaii is a blue state dominated by Democrats and the Democratic Party. Conventional wisdom though this may be, it’s only half true. And even the half that’s true is not really true. Dwell on that for a moment.

All too often we hear variations of, “As long as the one party-political mafia gate-holders have a stranglehold on who gets to be a candidate, you will only see more of the same.”

As the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii (DPH), I will share with you some not so secret, secrets.

The DPH does not pick and choose candidates. Any individual who is a member of the Party can place a “D” next to their name and run in any election as a Democrat. The Party has no say in the matter whatsoever.

The DPH does not actively nor officially help any candidate running in the Primary Election, where Democrats will challenge Democrats.

The truth is the Party mostly has nothing to do at all with deciding who runs and who doesn’t. These decisions are made by the individual candidates.

Yes, there are a variety of players who encourage various individuals to run and who offer support to both new and incumbent candidates. And yes, these individuals are sometimes but not always affiliated with the Party.

More often the core allegiance of the various players and political operatives is based on the needs and goals of special interest groups – labor, business, environment, agriculture, construction etc.

Interest groups pleased with their preferred legislator’s performance will continue to support them, and those not pleased will seek to find a challenger to “take out” an incumbent.

The DPH has a strong social, environmental, and economic justice platform. Those serving in public office are expected to support the platform, but there is no mechanism to ensure this happens – none, zero, nada.

Anyone doubting this need only look at the failures of leadership in the State House. Year after year they simply ignore DPH priorities, focusing instead on pleasing various business and tourism industry organizations.

Think of the Party as a brand. The politically preferable brand for a majority of voters in Hawaii is the “D”. Consequently, most candidates choose to run as Democrats.

Because of the hard work and relentless commitment by rank and file Party members over the years, the DPH brand is a stellar one.

Unfortunately, in recent years the brand has been tarnished by incumbent legislators who are essentially corporatists.

Working people struggle daily just to survive, our stream waters have been taken over by big business, the houseless have been criminalized, and our economy remains dominated by military spending and tourism.

If real Democrats were truly in charge the minimum wage in Hawaii would be $15 now and headed without question toward a true living wage. If Democrats who actually believed in the Democratic platform and values were really at the helm, luxury second homes and real estate speculators would be paying the highest taxes in the nation not the lowest, AND the lack of affordable housing would have been declared an emergency a long time ago.

So the not-so-secret secret is that the Democratic Party of Hawaii is not in charge, it’s the corporatists that have hijacked the “D” brand who are actually running the show.

We can change this of course. It starts with finding and supporting new candidates who truly believe in the principles and values upon which the Democratic Party of Hawaii is based. We need to find real “D’s” to run against the faux “D’s” and those who carry water for their enablers.

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.) 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) - “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)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Myth of Democrats Controlling Politics and Government in Hawaii

  1. Old fogey says:

    Sorry, but I disagree with your characterization about “real Democrats”. There’s no such thing. The politics are only as good as the strength of the forces behind them. Long ago, “real” Republicans were anti-slavery and “real” Democrats were pro-slavery. “Real” Republicans now are proto-facists. It’s not about the party, it’s about the politics and the balance of power at the time, and deciding on the best arena to struggle in. In Hawaii now, that would be the DP. But it could change later.

    • garyhooser says:

      You raise some good points and thank you for taking the time to share them but…My definition of a “real Democrat” is one that supports the values and goals contained within the Party’s platform and other value statements.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s