Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Editorial: Hawaii has a different, more advanced system of government—let’s embrace it
by Larry Geller
Imagine a parallel universe with no Republicans or Democrats. Imagine living in a USA that doesn’t have a two-party system written into its constitution.
Oh, our Constitution doesn’t specify two political parties? Who would suspect?
Imagine living in a place where there are no political parties raising zillions of dollars trying to undermine each other, where no party is working hard to suppress the votes of citizens wishing to vote for the other.
Imagine living in a place where lawmakers are (at least in theory) elected on merit, experience or other factors not related to self-interested party machines.
Could such a non-partisan universe exist, govern itself successfully, and look after the interests of citizens instead of self-serving politicians?
That universe does exist to a large extent—in Hawaii.
As a Civil Beat editorial notes:
Hawaii is down to six Republicans in the 51-member state House of Representatives and zero Republicans in the 25-member Senate.
Hawaii has what amounts to a new experiment in governance, and continuing the Republican/Democrat mindset may be increasingly counterproductive. Certainly, during elections, the national parties contribute funds to and support local candidates of the same party, but outside of that, the two-party system has effectively been abandoned here.
I have no argument with the editors here:
Democracies are at their healthiest when there is a strong and capable opposition party. Even if the minority party is a perpetual minority — as the Grand Old Party has been in Hawaii since statehood — there is value in having diversity of thought in the Legislature.
What I don’t think we need is the kind of two-party politics plaguing the rest of the country. Nationally, government accomplished very little during the eight years of the Obama presidency largely due to the polarization of two-party politics. That model has failed, and should be let go. Of course, it won’t be let go.
In Hawaii, however, it is already on the way out. Our single remaining Republican state senator was not re-elected, leaving a single-party body. If one has to look at the Senate in terms of party.
The leap of thought that journalists and political scientists might want to try out is to banish the words “Republican” and “Democrat” from their analysis just temporarily. That’s what voters have done—they’ve voted for candidates. Due to many factors, candidates are more and more from a single party, so look at the candidates themselves instead of their label. That label is increasingly meaningless. Unless one is stuck on the belief that a politician must be identified by either one of those two parties as their defining characteristic.
I do agree that it is best to have opposition. Does it have to be a political party at all? Even if it is a party, do the parties still have to align themselves to the rapidly faltering national divisions of R and D, Red and Blue?
The states on the Continent, many of them, are in significant trouble due to inter-party battles and party-defined ideology.
They should pay attention to Hawaii as it moves away from the two party system. Hawaii could look upon its “situation” as an accomplishment and work further on a new model of governance.
I know, I know, it’s hard to reject the Republican/Democrat divide from our minds, which have been steeped in that model our whole lives.
Free yourself from it. Imagine something different. In part, we already live in that parallel universe in Hawaii, and I see no reason to go back to something which works much less well.
But let’s keep this a secret for a while longer, so that those two national parties won’t see Hawaii as a threat and work to thwart our chances of evicting them from our islands.
Bullcrap. The one-party monopoly has ruined Hawaii. Look at our taxes. The teachers are one step away from having taxing powers. The DOE is so top-heavy the money is all spent on administrators, assistant supervisors, etc. Hawaii's spend more/student than nearly any other state and look at the outcome. Motor vehicle taxes go up all the time. The GET same. The legislature spends all their time crafting way to squeeze more money out of us and there's no one to say STOP. Quit spending money you don't have!
We need a strong opposition party in Hawaii and unfortunately, the Hawaii Republican Party has not filled the bill.