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Monday, May 20, 2024 73° Today's Paper

EditorialIsland Voices

Hawaii voters, we must ask better questions of politicians

Surely read by every high school graduate, Henry David Thoreau’s 1849 essay, "Civil Disobedience," argues that government derives its power from the majority because they are the strongest, not because they hold the most legitimate point of view.

In other words, Might does not equal Right.

Even if we accept Thoreau’s argument in principle, our electoral process dictates that the majority wins and subsequently rules. But, not far down the road, why are we so often disappointed in the results?

Given the state of our state, we, the people of Hawaii, need to put on our critical thinking caps, assume individual responsibility for our votes, and engage in a little civil disobedience. Otherwise, political ads and party operatives will continue to blatantly stir up emotional boiling pots and feed us dubious answers to the wrong questions.

Let’s take a lesson from Albert Einstein’s mother. When her young son came home from school, she said something like, "What good questions did you ask today?" Let’s activate our little gray cells and ask some good questions.

It may be printed by the U.S. Treasury, but federal money comes from people in every state. Why, then, do we elect people to Congress whose self-described job is confiscating money from people in other states so we can spend it in our state? Do people in other states not need their money for their own state Departments of Education, infrastructures, or social programs?

Why are we intent on getting a bigger piece of the federal money pie and less interested in making our own money pies? We elect people to bring home the bacon, but are we prepared to treat our addiction when the bacon runs out, as it always does?

Dare I ask why we do not live within our means? Why do we dump on our elected officials when they vote "no" on something for which there is no money?

Why do we enslave ourselves to the government, labor unions, and slogans such as "That’s just how it is in Hawaii"? When did so many of us become sheep who follow the bellwether headlong over the cliff?

In a state that inherited from its original inhabitants a culture of sustainability, why do we continue to turn agricultural lands into subdivisions, make ourselves virtually dependent on imports and build what we can’t afford, including bureaucracies?

When did we forget that no part of kalo was wasted? Did we ever know that, when the ancient Hawaiians made feather lei, they humanely captured a bird, plucked a few feathers, and released it to provide feathers on another day?

In a state that would not exist without an impressive oceangoing history, why is there no way for most of us to travel between islands except on expensive and restrictive airplanes?

When did we begin to think of the minimum wage as support for a family of four instead of a wage we earned at a part-time job while in high school where, by not sleeping through recess, we prepared ourselves for higher education and a non-minimum wage job?

Does our itty-bitty state need a lieutenant governor? What is the lieutenant governor’s job? Has our lieutenant governor traditionally had much influence over the governor?

When did personal religious and spiritual beliefs become detrimental when running for public office?

When did it become fashionable for parents to allow a village to raise their children?

Why is education … ? Sorry, I have no space here to deal with that issue because education requires a whole book.

The questions never end, but why do we so often fail to ask them?

Implying we should check the polls before heading to the polling station, an acquaintance recently said, "Vote for someone who can win."


That one word is my last question for today. It is also my response to anyone who makes statements without clear, complete, in-context facts to back them up.

Until we elect statesmen instead of politicians, our votes are the only way to tell those who win elections to keep digging, stop digging, or give others the shovels to fill up the hole so we can climb out all by ourselves.

As usual, it’s our choice, and we, the people of Hawaii, always get exactly what we deserve.


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