Monday, July 21, 2014

The state of Hawaii's elected representatives

Looking at the gaggle of Congressional District 1 candidates rushing to try and fill Colleen Hanabusa's soon-to-be-vacant seat (as she attempts to supplant Brian Schatz from his seat in the U.S. Senate), it's hard to know who to vote for. None of them stands out as a particularly strong candidate. Some have had lots of experience sitting in legislative bodies, but have accomplished little, while others are idealists and reformers who have never held elected office and are much too likely to burn bridges and make enemies, preventing any of their reforms from ever taking place.

Looking at Hawaii's history of elected representatives, either from the Territory or the State of Hawaii, we have had titans of politics sit in Congress and fight for Hawaii in the past. Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, Samuel Wilder King, Jack Burns, Dan Inouye, Tom Gill, Patsy Mink: for better or for worse, these men and women fought hard for what they believed was best for Hawaii. Although not every idea they implemented was a success, not everything they accomplished has survived, and not all that they believed in turned out to be in the best interest of Hawaii's people, they still got shit done. These are the figures that shaped modern Hawaii, as representatives to Congress and, as was the case for several of them, as governors and U.S. senators as well.

Compare them to our current selection of choices and it seems the quality of our politicians, both in terms of leadership as well as sheer political skill, has declined. This is the argument that is made in a soon-to-be-published essay on the Hawaii Independent for which this illustration was created to accompany. Once the article comes out, the link will be posted. Where is our modern day Wilcox? Where is our Mink? I hope to see them enter the political arena soon.