WAILUA — Keli‘i Akina says politics is not about the truth.
“That’s hard for people to understand. … The truth will triumph when we all get to heaven. Until that day, the world remains imperfect. In politics, the truth is not the winning factor,” said Akina, Office of Hawaiian Affairs at-large trustee. “Look around you in Hawaii. Usually it’s those who don’t have the truth (who) win. They hold on to power, and they keep power.”
Akina was the guest speaker at the Kauai Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at the Smith Family Garden Luau on Saturday.
In front of a crowd of about 90 people, Akina told members of the Kauai Grand Old Party they owe it to their philosophy to learn to win.
“Donald J. Trump is president of the United States today not because of his values or his philosophies. … He is president of the United States today because he knows how to win,” Akina said. “Politics is a game in which there are winners and losers.”
Steve Yoder, Kauai County Republican Party chair, told The Garden Island he wants the GOP to expand in the Aloha State.
“I want us to … seek out more people who feel that government is not the solution; it’s more of the problem,” he said. “Republican values is the way to go and elect people in the state Legislature in Districts 14,15 and 16 in the Republican Party.”
In the state of Hawaii, the GOP needs to win back the state to its original founding, he said.
“We have come to a point where we are now in a civil war, in my opinion. It’s an ideological (war),” he said.
“The person who’s president now doesn’t believe in ideology. He’s just a man that wants to get things done. That’s the reason why this man was elected.”
Akina, who defeated long-time incumbent Haunani Apoliono by a margin of 163,743-156,193 in the general election to become OHA at-large trustee, emphasized several rules the GOP ought to adopt to win the hearts of voters.
If you’re going to win in Hawaii, it’s about uniting, and not dividing, he said.
“If I were only speaking to my colleagues who were conservatives … I would be held to a narrow message, and I would never have been able to find that one spot that united people,” he said.
Winning is about leading and not complaining, Akina told the crowd.
“The problem is as much as it is necessary to critique and criticize and attack, if that’s all you do, people know what you stand against, and they don’t know what you stand for,” he said.
Another, he added, is for the GOP to focus on everyone and not themselves.
“There’s not nothing wrong with modalities. I belong to several modalities,” he said. “Should our party be a modality? A modality is a social movement that transforms the world. We don’t lose elections as Republicans because the Democrats rigged the system. That simply is not true.”
Focusing on candidates, rather than the party, he said, is another tactic.
“When you find someone who you believe will be a great candidate, do everything you can to woo, support to recruit and list that candidate,” he said.
Winning small battles leads to winning bigger ones, pointed out Akina.
“I talk to a lot of young conservatives. They’re idealistic. They want to see a better world. They go after big goals,” he said. “Until we get into office and start getting something — little gains — we won’t get the big gains.”
Akina ended his speech by having members of the crowd repeat his rules aloud.
“We can’t win if we remain disconnected with the rest of the population,” he said. “I want to ask many of you to join me, as candidates yourselves, or by encouraging candidates out there to run to make Hawaii great again — to make America great again.”