Most important voter on Aug. 11 will be the non-voter

On this auspicious holiday, when much of Hawaii’s population is in a celebratory mood and perhaps distracted from the fundamental purpose of the occasion, it is appropriate to pause for a moment and think about why we celebrate.

The Declaration of Independence essentially affirmed that the people residing in the 13 colonies had the right to be free from tyranny and had the right to self governance. The words put down on that single sheet of paper stated unequivocally that individual citizens had the inherent right to gather together to discuss the issues, to decide for themselves the rules and structure of their society, and to elect their own government leaders.

The most famous of the words are the preamble which states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While we can debate, and argue and in the end concede that many injustices and in fact genocides have been and continue to be put upon the planet by so-called civil society, the fundamental truth to this statement remains.

For me, the 4th of July is a celebration and a reminder of the peoples’ right to self governance. Along with the right to self governance comes the obligation to be involved and to take ownership of our government.

We either let it happen, or we make it happen. We are responsible for our governments conduct, at all levels: County, State, and Federal.

Whether the problem is the condition of our roads or our schools, there is no one to blame but ourselves. The lack of affordable housing, the dirty parks, and the long lines at the DMV are the result of our inattention to our government and the abdication of that power to others.

Less than 30 percent of eligible residents will vote on Aug. 11. While many will grumble about the candidates, they will not themselves run for office nor often even show up to vote.

I come into contact with people on a regular basis who say to me (sometimes apologetically and sometimes in defiance), “I don’t do politics.” The truth of course is that “If you don’t do politics, politics will do you.”

With such a small number of voters determining the leadership in our County and State, there is a huge opportunity for those who do “do politics” as even a modest increase in the number of people showing up on election day can sway the results.

The secret weapon in the quest to elect new leaders at both the County and State level are consequently, the new voters.

Think about it. 70 percent of people eligible to vote are, if past trends continue, not going to vote in the primary election on Aug. 11. This pool of voters is a YUGE untapped resource for change. Who are these “untapped voters”? Conventional wisdom would indicate that they consist of the three groups who historically have the worst voting records: Hawaiians, young voters, and new residents.

The Declaration of Independence, was a document essentially written by one man, Thomas Jefferson. He was part of a committee of five that included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. They were assigned the task of putting the words on paper, but the initial draft and ultimate majority of the document was written by Thomas Jefferson alone.

If five guys can get together and come up with the Declaration of Independence, think about what a handful of people here can do to make positive systemic change happen in our community.

Remember Aug. 11 is the day!

And remember also that if you have never voted, or if you rarely vote, on Aug. 11, your vote will be the one that makes the difference.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. LMat July 5, 2018 9:21 am Reply

    Ahhhh Gary, still living in your utopian, fantasy world.

    As evinced by Tomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and prominent owner of many slaves, and so eloquently lyricized by 80’s rock band Depeche Mode: Words are meaningless and forgettable…
    Thomas Jefferson owned slaves up until the day he died. And although he did some things in his life that substantiated his “all men are created equal” spiel, he did many of those things with his own benefit and well being in mind (like supporting the freedom of slaves only after their masters attained a “return on their investment”).
    Everyone has an agenda, you know this most of all. If it was as easy as you imply, do you think we’d still have children in cages? Mass shootings happening every other week? Crooks and criminals in office?
    I do agree everyone should get out and vote tho, I mean, we got you out, I just wish we could enjoy your silence a little more…

    1. Debra Kekaualua July 5, 2018 3:33 pm Reply

      E’o, Lmat. Too many people who do Not know what to do with themselves, so they write to TGI and continue to try to sway and confuse. Zero out voting in the u.s.a. rigged gigs

  2. Gary Hooser July 5, 2018 2:34 pm Reply

    Am curious why you are afraid to post your real name? Pretty easy to take shots from a keyboard. You must live a pretty sad life, when you are embarrassed or afraid of speaking about your views and values publicly.

    1. LMat July 6, 2018 10:00 am Reply

      That’s your comeback? Trying to imply I’m afraid to put my real name on my comment? No defense of your choice to laud a hypocrite and phony? Are you a little bit embarrassed that your failure to do proper research on a figure you were glorifying exemplifies how shallow and glib you are? Maybe you DID know that Jefferson thought of blacks as inferior, or that by the time he became president, he had “yielded to public opinion” and practically given up any outward notions that “all men are created equal”, but you thought us peons would swoon and sigh at your inspirational rhetoric anyway…
      Nevertheless, keep sounding the rallying call Hoos!! If these five [rich, powerful, white] guys can come up with the Declaration of Independence, ridding our local government of tyranny should be a piece of cake for us!

      For real tho, everyone, DO go and vote. Not because of Gary’s lucrative and pathetic TGI opinion pieces, but because we really can change things up.
      -Loretta Mattos

  3. Tom Niblick July 6, 2018 10:20 am Reply

    Thanks for the pep talk Garry. I’m one of those who always votes. Sometimes I really like a candidate because she or he can really make a difference in the quality of our daily life. Other times I feel a need to vote out the good old boys as all they seem to do is make cuz’s life richer. But they always seem to get back in… or their sons… or their friends.
    We have some serious infrastructure issues on this island. Our roads frankly suck. There are far too many tourists and part-time residents. The cost of housing is criminal and there is little hope for the younger generation of a better life. We’ve become a retirement community for well to do Californians.
    It is going to take some fresh blood and new ideas to address these issues.

  4. Rellik July 6, 2018 12:22 pm Reply

    I don’t use my real name because I’m afraid of the government.
    Democrat run and laws enforced/interpreted as they see fit.
    I always vote, but frankly is a waste of time.
    My fellow citizens are too stupid to see that they are slaves to an
    oligarchy and a single party state.
    I don’t need to leave, here, I can wait it out as you all economically fail and
    your kids leave.

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