Get involved and don’t count on government

I enjoyed my friend Gary Hooser’s editorial attempt to define the U.S. political spectrum in The Garden Island the other day. I also enjoyed the annoyed responses. One of the rules of communication and general semantics is that everyone needs to agree what a word means.

If people have different understandings of a word’s meaning, then we are not actually communicating. “Progressive” is one such word. No one agrees on its meaning.

My own view differs quite a bit from Gary’s on the meanings of “liberal,” “conservative” and “progressive.” I know plenty conservatives who see themselves as progressive. I know plenty liberals who are fiscally responsible. Is anyone really against progress?

Full disclosure: I rarely vote for a Democrat or a Republican. I vote for the environment. I vote for nature. I was pleased to vote for Gary Hooser.

I often vote for “None of the above” or a third party that reflects my views.

I was a little kid when Eisenhower was president. The federal government was quite small in those days. Eisenhower warned about the Military Industrial Complex. He was a conservative.

The U.S. has the strongest, enforced environmental laws in the world: the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. All these laws were signed by President Richard Nixon, a conservative.

Back in the day, when I first became a leader in the Sierra Club, the membership was equally divided: Republicans and Democrats (unfortunately, not true anymore).

In my opinion, government has failed, especially the federal government. It is wasteful, bureaucratic and ineffective. Government is bought and paid for by big business interests.

The state and county governments are not much better. Many folks who label themselves as conservatives see those who label themselves as progressives as sort of nut-cases, advocating more and bigger government.

To attack conservatives as favoring the “law of the jungle” isn’t fair. Most people who call themselves conservatives want pretty much the same things that the rest of us want. Clean air, clean water, protecting nature, roads, schools, law enforcement, etc., are goals we all support.

Rather than “putting each other in a box” with bad-guy labels, the solution is for all us to become involved in the community. Before you start, just know that a lot of problems cannot be solved by government, no matter how much money is spent. (Look at all our wars in the Middle East.)

Pick your issue. Get rid of your black-and-white thinking, study the issue from all points of view and go out and try to convince people. An involved community will not tolerate a dumb, ineffective government.

Then, we are all progressives.


Gordon LaBedz is a resident of Kekaha.

  1. James September 2, 2018 6:38 am Reply

    As an environmentalist, any recommendations or suggestions for mayor and County council elections in Nov.? It’s hard to ferret out the true positions of those running for office. Thanks,

  2. Dtuers September 2, 2018 9:27 pm Reply

    aloha Uncle Gordon,
    I wanted to say thank you for writing this article. It is important that we all take these words, especially as we approach elections. We all may not see eye to eye, but we do all have many common goals.

  3. harry oyama September 3, 2018 9:48 pm Reply

    Government should take care of Americans first not others who have not contributed to this nation, but instead tax its generous social system.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.