Turning marchers into voters, learning from the revolution of ‘54’

On March 28, 2019, over 2,500 Kauai residents marched on Rice Street. On Oahu, over 20,000 marched through Waikiki. Similarly, on Maui and in Hawaii County — thousands marched — for, justice and for Aloha ‘Aina.

Depending on the exact district, it can take less than 2,500 votes to win a state House seat and 7,500 votes to be a state senator (some districts more and some districts less).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what could come next.

Imagine what could happen if those who marched were all registered to vote, all actually did vote, and their votes were focused on qualified credible candidates who supported their world view.

The potential for change is palpable.

Because all legislative decisions are driven by a “majority” and assuming there are already some legislators holding office now who share the values of those who marched — only a relative handful of newly elected individuals are needed to achieve bold systemic change.

Hypothetically speaking of course — if one wanted to plan or plot a Hawai’i political revolution — a very rough, “back of the envelope” estimate of the number of newly elected individuals needed might be as follows.

State House of Representatives: 51 Representatives total, thus a majority is 26.

State Senate: 25 Senators total, thus a majority is 13.

There are a handful of champions in both the House and the Senate, and numerous others who, when the crunch comes, will “do the right thing.”

Consequently, it is not necessary for those who seek a revolution, to achieve a clean sweep of all seats. In addition, because of the “multiple faction” nature of organizational leadership, electing even just 12 new legislators in 2020 would equate to a political earthquake not seen since the often heralded “Democratic Revolution of 1954”.

Of course, more is better, but the election of even just 12 new legislators who embrace the values of Aloha ‘Aina, put people and the planet above corporate greed and who recognize the urgency of the moment — would be huge.

The history is important:

“The Hawaii Democratic Revolution of 1954 was a nonviolent revolution that took place in the Hawaiian Archipelago consisting of general strikes, protests and other acts of civil disobedience. The Revolution culminated in the territorial elections of 1954 where the long reign of the Hawai’i Republican Party in the legislature came to an abrupt end, as they were voted out of the office to be replaced by members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii …” Wikipedia

While the “Revolution of 1954” was driven largely by the labor movement, history will look back at the “Revolution of 2020” and see that it was the “Aloha ‘Aina” movement accompanied by a strong “progressive base” that fueled the change.

The “in-your-face injustice” occurring in Hawaii that pertains to issues of economic, environmental and social justice added to the heightened cultural awareness and ongoing “Hawaiian Renaissance” — has created an ideal environment for the revolution now occurring.

The litany of historical abuse and injustice heaped upon the Hawaiian people is no longer buried in the history books written by their oppressors.

The mismanagement of our natural resources is self-evident, on every island.

The selling of public trust resources to the highest bidder, the diversion and ultimately killing of our streams, reefs and nearshore waters, the development of our sacred and once-pristine spaces – All it seems, facilitated by government agencies who see environmental regulations as impediments to development, rather than valuable public resource protections.

Government agencies charged with regulating various industries now seem owned by those same industries.

The multinational agrochemical industry continues to pollute both our drinking water and our nearshore oceans. Government is aware and does nothing.

Meanwhile the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, and their enablers in government wring their hands and offer excuses for their inaction.

Hawaii legislators will be getting their pay increases — while minimum wage workers will get nothing.

Government sweeps away our houseless brothers and sisters while facilitating the construction of luxury high-rises and multi-million dollar homes.

And criminal justice reform? Our government finds it’s easier and cheaper to just ship Hawaii citizens off to private prisons in Arizona.

Some will say that I am being too hard on the good people now sitting in public office. They are trying their best, these issues are complicated and some meaningful progress is being made.

Others will say that I am not being hard enough. Simply trying your best, complaining about the complexity of the issues and taking baby steps while the world is crumbling down upon us – equates to gross negligence and is unacceptable.

A close friend told me once, “Remember Gary, the “Revolution of ‘54” did not actually happen in ‘54 … it happened in ‘48, ‘50, ‘52 and then culminated in ‘54.”

In any case, the revolution is upon us. Tens of thousands of new Hawaii voters will be showing up in August, of this I am sure. New credible and qualified candidates, who share the Aloha ‘Aina worldview and a mindset that put people and the planet first, are already beginning to throw their hats in the political ring — on every island.

More are sure to follow.

Political revolutions of the non-violent sort, are important and necessary. Complacency and corruption increasingly infect the body politik. The swinging of the pendulum is inevitable.

Please, if you have not already done so, register to here: olvr.hawaii.gov



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.


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