By Steven Offenbaker
The political parties in our country’s history are steeped with a rich tradition and they inspire a passion within their membership, convinced they know what’s best for our country.
The Republican Party will proudly tell you they are the party of Lincoln and Reagan, that they abolished slavery and stand for hard work and the entrepreneur spirit. The Democratic Party, whose numbers include names such as Roosevelt and Kennedy, will shout from the rooftops that they are the party that truly cares about the poor, the party that looks out for the little guy.
While there is truth in what both parties say they stand for their missions have been corrupted. Neither party primarily works for the betterment of the people, and instead now simply works for power, control, and fame.
No other place in the country can this be seen more clearly than right here in Hawaii. This state is dominated by one political party. Of the 78 elected positions in the Hawaii State government, 71 are held by the Democratic Party.
Let’s take a minute to truly understand what that number means. What it really means is that at the State level, the Democratic Party can pass any law that it wants, be secure in the knowledge that it could override the veto of any legislation the State Legislature passed, and really has no excuse for not having passed 100% of the initiatives they propose.. In short, every promise should have been delivered and if it’s broke, it’s the democratic parties fault.
They are so hell bent on being in “power” that they don’t take care of anyone but themselves. They can’t even be open to good ideas if the ideas don’t come from them. I have seen firsthand the House Democrats use the “gut and replace” amending of a bill to take legislation introduced by a republican and paste it into a bill introduced by a democrat so that the republicans name isn’t on the bill in the hopes that the republican won’t then be able to take any credit for the legislation, does that sound like a bunch of people that are working in your best interest?
On the Republican side, you would expect to find a small group of like minded individuals that have circled the wagons, and are running a gorilla campaign in the legislature, to call attention to the wrongs they perceive and fight to raise awareness in an effort to block things they consider detrimental. That’s not even close to what’s happening.
The Hawaii Republican Party can’t fight the good fight because they are too busy fighting amongst themselves. Instead of increasing their numbers in the legislature they are running against each other in the few consistently republican districts (see Fale, Richard as a prime example). Instead of being the party that epitomizes the “big tent” mentality, they are embarrassing themselves.
Republican Cynthia Thielen has been in the State House for over two decades. In the midst of one of the discussion of the legalization of Same Sex marriage during the recent special session the rest of the Hawaii Republican Party decided it was more important to gang up on the gentlewoman from Kailua and punish her. They decided to punish her by stripping her of her leadership roles because she didn’t agree with them luckily there attempt failed. Wouldn’t it have been better to have spent all that time and effort to fight for what you believe in instead of attacking a 70 year old lady.
What I can’t help but conclude is that both parties have allowed the radicals, those folks that are the vocal minorities of our parties, to take control and make what should be the work of serious people for the betterment of our families and turn it into a three ring circus, no offense to the circus.
Hawaii needs a third choice, a new political party. The first question that gets asked when you talk about new parties is “Well what will the platform be?” I have thought long and hard and my response is that it won’t have one.
In a perfect world we would get rid of political parties, and when you went to vote you would pick the best person for the job without the aid of the little letter next to their name.
I’m a realist I know that’s never going to happen. That’s why I would like a third party. The mission of this new party would be a simple one: “Ensure the best representation for the people that elected us. To act always in the best interest of the district I represent.” It’s really that simple.
In Hawaii that would mean working with the Democratic Party, to help pull the party away from the power hungry radicals and put it back in the hands of the people. There are great leaders in the Democratic Party. Leaders that want better, that expect better, and are actively working to make things better. Those are the people that would need to be brought into this new party.
You might ask if there is one elected official today that would be the model of the type of representation and leadership that I’m talking about for this new party, there is and her name is Tulsi Gabbard.
For a new party to be credible it will need a big name at the top of it and Congresswoman Gabbard would be perfect. She works with everyone in an effort to do what, in her estimation, is best for the people she represents. I truly respect that.
Now before you get too worked up I know that the Congresswoman is never going to leave the Democratic Party, I know it’s a dream that a third party will take hold and take control here in Hawaii. Basically I know none of this is not ever going to actually happen.
What I want is for you all to read this and think. Think if you have been well represented. Think if you have been served by your elected officials or if you are serving them, then make the changes that are needed to correct the wrongs.
If you’re not being served, stop electing the same people every two years and let’s make some changes. Take back your party, and if you can’t take it back find a new one, one that will allow you to make a difference.
I can’t take back my party here in Hawaii. There is simply too much dysfunction in the Hawaii Republican Party. My values haven’t changed, but I am no longer well represented by the people that have taken control of the party.
Does that mean I becoming a Democrat? I don’t know. There are some things that I disagree with the democrats about, but at the same time, Hawaii Democrats elected Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrats seem to be slowly moving away from the “old boys club” and making changes.
There are some truly great and inspirational people in Republican Party. Lynn Finnegan, Dylan Nonaka, Duke Aiona just to name a few. All people I know and truly respect, but these are not the people running the Republican Party, and that’s a shame.
The current leadership at the Hawaii Republican Party has failed me; the current elected officials in the Hawaii Republican Party have failed me; and because of that, I have to leave the party.
Steven Offenbaker is a small business owner in Honoka’a, Hawai’i and has worked as a Legislative Specialist for the County of Hawai’i and as a Legislative Analyst at the Hawai’i State Legislature.