Monday, May 15, 2006


Hawaii Elections 2006: Lingle's winning strategy

When I was a kid, the Democratic Party was the party of the people. Together with the unions, you could take comfort that the Democrats would stand up for even the smallest, most insignificant person. This held true whether they were the party in power (as they most often were, in New York City) or not.

In Hawaii at present, Governor Lingle has successfully taken over the role of champion of the people. The perception may be stronger than the reality, but let's give credit where it is due and criticism when that is necessary too.

Let's look at a current skirmish, being played out in the press, as the mayor and city and county governments heartlessly evicted about 200 homeless people from Ala Moana Park with no plans to relocate them, provide services for them, or look after them in any way. See: these are the little guys, the ones I mentioned used to be helped by the Democrats when I was a kid.

Letter writer Christopher Wright summed it up very well in a letter to the editor in this Sunday's Star-Bulletin headlined Lingle's leadership, aloha helped homeless

...Rather than finding a solution, the mayor chose to punt, saying the homeless are not the city's problem.

Fortunately, when Governor Lingle realized that Hannemann had abandoned the evicted homeless people, she and her administration quickly put together a shelter that is clean and safe.

The governor helped those most in need with her decisive action and tremendous aloha. All our elected officials would do well to follow her example.
And so they would. We should not hesitate to give Lingle full marks for stepping in and doing the right thing. The new shelter is, by reports, clean and new feeling, and an appropriate reaction to the problem Mayor Hannemann and the city created. Social services can be provided to the people who must stay there, and they have a certain stability to replace the chaos of forceable relocation.

Just where are the Democrats? Reviewing recent newspaper coverage, you'll easily find popular initiatives from the governor's office, but it's not clear what the folks in power have done for us lately. In fact, they've missed some opportunities to stand up for the common people.

There's an election coming up, and finally a designated Democratic candidate, but his voice has hardly been heard. Of course, the governor has the "bully pulpit" and means to find a shelter (for example), which the challenger does not. But still, to win an election a challenger needs to show she or he is better than the incumbent.

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