Guest Column — A New Party?

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. 


20 replies
  1. sada anand kaur
    sada anand kaur says:

    Russell Ruderman has proven himself to represent Puna district, as well as, interests of people over corporate interests. If we could only clone him, our state could find itself in good stead.

    It time for each community to look around, identify & support articulate, passionate young people who can be trusted to represent people, instead of our longstanding corrupted systems of governance.

    From city/county, state houses & governorship, all must be held to new standards of ethical action, demanded by we, the electorate. These are new times, times that demand new approaches in solving problems, fresh starts, enormous courage to simply do the next right thing, without
    political backdoor influences. Our future depends upon this.

  2. hugh clark
    hugh clark says:

    Steve, I think history is not on your side at all. GOP is not the party of Lincoln — any more than Demos are of Andy Jackson.

    Last week a poll suggested just 23 percent Americans believe Lincoln would be a Republican today! Look at the nonsense of Tea people claiming Jefferson as their Saint.

    Third and/or fourth parties are fool’s gold as witnessed by paranoid Ross Perot’s run for president against Bush (part 1) and by the old Don Quixote of USA politics at the other end of the spectrum .

    In practice, they are divisive and impractical as we see regularly in real time in Italy and France.

    In Rome, some new leaders do not have time to change the sheets before they are back out on the street.

    Remember that new political wave called Greens? Not sure it is a legally recognized party these days and it has not elected anyone in Hawaii in several voting cycles. And despite being on our ballot regularly, Libertarians have elected no one

  3. Pete Altomare
    Pete Altomare says:

    Hugh, I think your comments reflect an observation of the deep poverty of political discourse and ideas that is the case in the U.S.
    We have no real political discussion in the U.S.
    How else can we have our Constitutionally mandated representative republic?

  4. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    If the State Legislature and Governor went non partisan we would be likely to have better governance than we do today. They could at least align with those they actually agree with rather than by party where they then fight it out amongst themselves.

    While we are at it, get rid of the expense of one house of the State Legislature. When “one-man-one-vote” came into being the reason for the State Senate went away. What we have now is simply two legislative bodies with the same essential make up.

  5. dd
    dd says:

    There is a green party. The legal candidates for president and vice pres. were detained and not allowed to participate in the debates. Look it up. A third party has no chance against the two GANGS who run the show.

  6. hugh clark
    hugh clark says:

    Well, a unicameral non-partisan legislature was strongly advocated by former senator Nelson Doi, also a Circuit Court Judge and one-time Lt. Governor, and he got no where with his suggestion. Doi is either best or second best orator in Hawaii.

    These changes require passage at a Constitutional Convention. Remember efforts to convene the last one was overwhelming rejected by voters, Maybe in seven or years one will become obviously needed.

    As for a Green Party it has either gone into hiding or hibernation. No evidence of its existence in 2010 or 2012 elections.

    I suspect it has gone the way of the way of the Whigs and Bull Moose Party.

  7. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Steven Offenbaker,

    Very well written. Dang good point,….and very courageous of you.

    You Republicans have hearts after all. Three cheers for you buddy.

    Hip, hip…..hooray!
    Hip, hip…..hooray!


  8. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    psssssst. The Hemp Party, get the country out of debt.
    There is no discussion about party until you end the FED and a few other acronyms, CFR, nsa, cia, dea…. There is no division between the red corporate owned house or the blue corporate owned house. Where are you getting you news feed still off the Corporate propaganda box? oh flat screen/ cable?..Corporate citizens out vote you by $000,000.00. Party smarty, what a brainwashed dichotomy.
    This country is headed for a revolution, anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t studied much history.
    Question is will WWIII start first, eh? Barry?

  9. punated
    punated says:

    These politicos like Ruderman, Brenda Ford and Margaret Wille are horrible for Hawaii, and specifically for this island. All of this health mumbo-jumbo psychotic fear and what panic reaction to knee-jerk is not the way politics, or government should operate. Fracking – protect the island, GMO – protect the island, Geothermal – protect the island , and so on. And yet, here is a much more plausible scenario for Hawaii island than presented by the above imaginary threats.

    North Korea is about 20 years away from an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland US and being able to shrink an atomic bomb down to a nosecone size. But it currently, right now, has the capability of launching a Medium-range Ballistic Missile about halfway and they could detonate a smaller warhead in the atmosphere.

    Halfway to the mainland US from North Korea is Hawaii. The scenario is that as tensions increase, they send a non-life threatening “peaceful” message and detonate an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) bomb directly over Hawaii. This would be of such intensity to burn up the whole grid, all the solar panels, all the car batteries, any electronics, traffic lights, radio communications, and down any aircraft caught under the blast. The 7th Fleet would be immobilized.

    The US couldn’t launch a nuclear retaliation and turn the country into “glass” like a lot of people think. More recent supercomputer simulations show that even 7 nuclear warheads detonated in a region has the possibility of creating enough of a radioactive dust cloud to still bring on Nuclear Winter. Oh joy, for the people that don’t believe in global warming.

    It would be the Punatic Paranoids dream, No grid, no geothermal, but also no solar panels, no electricity until the entire infrastructure could be slowly rebuilt. So, what’s next for the senator and the council. Are they going to ban asteroids from hitting Hawaii island? After all, it is always about the safety and health of the constituents. Politricky doublespeak.

  10. tia
    tia says:

    fear**N Korea**fear**fear**get them before they get us**fear**Iran**fear**Syria**fear**we’re the only good guys here to save the earth!

  11. tia
    tia says:

    Parties are pure distraction from the fact that the U.S. is a for-profit private corporation:

    In UNITED STATES CODE, Title 28, in Section 3002 Definitions, it states the following:

    (15) “United States” means—
    (A) a Federal corporation;

    (*)”United States” is the “District of Columbia” incorporated.
    “The United States government is a foreign corporation with respect to a State” Volume 20: Corpus Juris Sec. § 1785, Also: NY re: Merriam 36 N.E. 505 1441 S. 0.1973, 14 L. Ed. 287

    The new “United States” includes States such as District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. It does not include the 50 states united.
    i.e. Title 26 Section 7701 Definitions (a) (9) and (10) 42 U.S.C. 405 (2)(c)(vii)

  12. dd
    dd says:

    Well I guess you better leave ted. Who will help you if your scenario happens? No one. You hate everyone here. No fear. who takes you seriously anyway?

  13. dd
    dd says:

    Ted why are you here? Why do you hate everyone? Do you REALLY live in the Puna? If so why? If you dislike everyone so much why do you torture yourself? I mean really. What joy do you take in cruising around cursing everyone you see?
    I do not get it.
    There is a sense of community in a lot of areas here that would not like no electricity but are willing to band together to get through stuff. Who is on your team?

  14. Karl
    Karl says:

    Ronald (and Steven): we effectively do have a nonpartisan legislature, because the “Democrats” are so dominant that almost everyone attaches themselves to the party simply for the name. So among the Democrats in the legislature you have many different factions, including those who would be Republicans in other state, and some who actually were former Republicans. Calvin Say, Clift Tsuji, Jerry Chang, and (for the latter type) Mike Gabbard are good examples.

    Hawaii has a different political dynamic than most other states. Elsewhere, union support is associated with the left. Here, it comes mostly from the right, because workers’ rights are not so much in jeopardy, and the interests of the unions are mainly in destroying environmental and planning regulations in order to build as much crap as possible. Ever since the demise of plantation agriculture, the industrial unions have been more in alignment with big business interests than with traditional Democratic bases.

  15. Karl
    Karl says:

    Also, I would say that the Republicans and their conservative Democrat allies in the legislature are indeed running a “gorilla campaign” as Steven so aptly put it. That certainly describes their performance in the same-sex marriage debate very well.

  16. greg
    greg says:

    There’s another greg here. I’ve been posting with this username for years. To prevent confusion, could you post under another name? Mahalo

  17. Steven Offenbaker
    Steven Offenbaker says:

    Lots of comments, I love it. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

    Hugh Clark, next chance for Con Con, me and you buddy, campaigning across the Big Island. A constitutional convention is the only way we can begin to fix this mess.

    Great discussion here in the comments. Hugh reread the column I didn’t say I think the Republican party is the party of Lincoln, I said they portray themselves as that, their biggest fundraiser is still the Lincoln Day dinner.

    Ronald, I would love to see what would happen if we went to a non partisan format for the State Legislature, that would be an interesting experiment.

  18. Russell Ruderman
    Russell Ruderman says:

    Thanks Sada for the kind words. It’s very much appreciated.
    And thank you Punated; it is an honor to be listed with Margaret Wille and Brenda Ford.
    But Punated ridicules me for wanting to “protect the island?” Sorry, P.T., I will try to control such silly urges, and listen to your sage advice that it is more constructive for local politicians to worry about North Korean missiles.

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