I recently had the honor and privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C., to represent the Democratic Party of Hawaii at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee.
As vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I hold one of the four seats on the DNC allotted to our state. The meetings are held over several days, and the items discussed ranged from planning the 2020 Presidential Convention, to passing resolutions governing national party policy rules and by-laws, to the establishment of guidelines intended to govern the upcoming presidential debates. Each state is represented by similar delegations, plus there are a number of other DNC members who also participate and vote.
Though I am vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I am not the official public spokesperson for the party, so please accept the words and comments written here as my own viewpoint only.
I will say first and foremost that I am very pleased to inform readers that while in Washington, D.C., I was able to meet with Sen. Brian Schatz and thank him personally for introducing at the national level a bill emulating to a great extent SB3095 banning chlorpyrifos and putting into place other important regulations governing Restricted Use Pesticides.
As those that follow this issue know all too well, this effort all started on Kauai with Bill 2491. To know that the effort which began in our local community as simply an idea intended to deal with a local problem, is now being introduced at the national level, should make all of Kauai proud.
While Sen. Mazie Hirono was not available to meet, her office was very gracious in arranging for Bart Dame, the Hawaii National Committeeman and myself to visit the Senate gallery and view debate on The New Green Deal, that was then underway.
It was pointed out by several senators on the floor that while the opposition was quick to throw stones and criticize, they offered no competing solutions to limit carbon emissions, and in fact most including the president were in denial that climate change, sea level rise and related problems were even real issues that needed to be dealt with.
During the intense four days of back-to back-meetings, I also had the pleasure to meet with political and government leaders from across the country.
I was especially pleased to speak with the leadership from Oregon and Washington State who spoke with pride and enthusiasm of their passage of automatic voter registration laws, and all mail-in voting.
New Jersey was there talking about how they had recently raised their minimum wage to $15, and in general there was a significant focus on what various states were doing to support low income working families.
The DNC meeting also held some disappointments in as much as the top party leaders failed to embrace the banning of corporate PAC donations to the DNC. Instead, the decision was made to put off this discussion until the 2020 convention, with the knowledge that individual candidates would be making their own individual decisions on this.
The exact location of the convention has not yet been decided but the three leading contenders at the moment are Houston, Milwaukee and Miami.
On the positive side, some very progressive guidelines that will govern the upcoming presidential primary debate selection process were announced.
Essentially the debate “thresholds for entry” are set to accommodate true grassroots candidates and not just a handful of “big names,” those who have the most money or who are polling the highest in all 50 states.
In short, any candidate that can demonstrate even 1 percent national name recognition and/or demonstrate a strong nation wide grassroots small donor fundraising base can qualify for the debate stage.
It is widely recognized and seen as a healthy sign, that there will be numerous highly qualified candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.
The debates will feature many candidates and are intended to give all a fair shot at demonstrating their qualifications and personal attributes, to all of the American people. Then as the process moves forward, some candidates will gain traction and many others will not.
There seemed to be a clear and unwavering commitment from all in attendance that whoever emerges as the winner of the 2020 Democratic Party convention to be held July 13–16, 2020, would gain the support of all.
And given the high quality of the wide field of candidates that have already declared, most attendees truly believe the Party membership and general public will in fact coalesce around that primary winner.
Over and over again it was stressed that the 2020 elections would be the most important one of our lifetime, and that the reelection of the person presently in office, would be an unmitigated disaster for people and the planet.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was 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.