Editorial | On Politics Na‘i Aupuni’s convention sends confusing message By Richard Borreca email@example.com Feb. 2, 2016 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! In four hot months in Philadelphia, delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 put together the world’s most successful political document, the U.S. Constitution. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. In four hot months in Philadelphia, delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 put together the world’s most successful political document, the U.S. Constitution. As we learned in history class, the Constitution was developed to “render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.” Now meeting at Royal Hawaiian Golf Club in Kailua is another group attempting to devise a new Hawaiian nation, and the effort is proving as controversial as the one setting up the U.S. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, watching from his post in Paris, called the convention “an association of demigods.” The meeting in Kailua can be charitably termed a “demi-convention” because while it has been convened with the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs under the umbrella of the just set-up Na‘i Aupuni, it really can’t do more than show sentiment by Native Hawaiians for or against the establishment of a government entity to deal with the federal government. The convention was supposed to feature delegates elected by those in Hawaii and elsewhere claiming Native Hawaiian ancestry, but when that appeared to be legally impossible, Na‘i Aupuni called an audible and said there’s no need for an election; all 196 delegates can dance. Also, it said, because this is a private gathering, not a state-run operation, it does not need to be open to the public. Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Timothy Hurley reported Sunday: “Spokesman Lloyd Yonenaka said the closed meeting was a decision by the Na‘i Aupuni board and the convention’s hired moderators — veteran mediator Peter Adler and Linda Colburn, a former OHA administrator — in a move to free the participants from the pressure of being under the public spotlight, although the convention could decide to open on its own later.” When the delegates met 229 years ago, one of the first things they did was shut the doors. Each delegate was obliged to take an oath of secrecy. “It was thought expedient, in order to secure unbiased discussion within doors and to prevent misconceptions and misconstructions without, to establish some rules of caution, which will for no short time restrain even a confidential communication of our proceeding,” wrote James Madison. Jefferson said, “I am sorry they began their deliberations by so abominable a precedent as that of tying of the tongues of their members.” Now in the 21st century, there is Facebook, and tied tongues will be loosened. By Monday afternoon, the Hawaiian convention might as well just open its doors, because the delegates are putting it all up on the Internet anyway. One fellow who said he was a delegate posted: “Uncle Bumpy Kanahele stood up and made a motion to rally around our ‘national identity.’ There were many shouts in support. Lilikalā spoke out, asking if that ‘national identity’ includes only Kanaka Maoli because that’s what she wants. Subsequently thereafter, the room semi-erupted in shouts of conflicting views. The Na‘i Aupuni staff stepped in, took the mic, and quieted things down.” Molokai activist Walter Ritte, who was a candidate and then withdrew his candidacy, tried to attend Monday’s first meeting as an observer and was escorted out. The confusion is likely to broaden and deepen the mistrust and misinformation. If the convention is to be an exercise in education, there is nothing wrong with educating the public. Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous Story Make moving OCCC a priority but no shortcuts Next Story Vaccine mandate too controversial?