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What does Donald Trump’s banner have to do with it?

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    Vandalized Trump signs are seen in Kapa‘a.

We are living in extraordinary times with great uncertainty on the horizon. Fortunately, our home is on the most isolated island of the most isolated island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

In this time of social upheaval, it is good that folks from the outside cannot just jump on a Greyhound bus and come into our community, as they have streamed into Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, in recent weeks.

We don’t need or want the hate and divisiveness here. Yes, we have a similar diversity of opinion, and we have similar strong feelings on similar issues, but so far aloha has prevailed — mostly.

The vandalism of the Trump banner on Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a saddens me, and I am hopeful that this negative destructive behavior does not spread further.

You will find no greater opponent to the re-election of Donald Trump than myself. I believe that his re-election would plunge the United States even deeper into the turmoil and darkness which now seems to permeate all corners of the continent. While it seems cliche, I truly do believe that the election of November 3rd is the most important one of our lifetime.

But we must not allow President Trump, nor his supporters, to goad us into negative behavior that accomplishes nothing except to justify their claims against us. As former first lady Michelle Obama has said, “When they go low, we go high.”

It is a slippery slope from the destruction and defacement of a Trump campaign banner to the vandalism of other candidate banners of those who might support his re-election. Then, it could quickly devolve into a “tit-for-tat,” first among Kaua‘i candidates and supporters, and then among our friends and neighbors who may have differing opinions.

No one should be afraid to put up any candidate’s sign in their yard. We here on Kaua‘i are better than that. We can and must show aloha and respect each other’s political choices. We may not understand how our neighbors could come to the conclusion they come to, but we must respect and honor their choice to think differently.

As someone who has been in the thick of many important and contentious issues over the past 25 years, I have come to conclude that good people can look at the same facts and circumstances and come to different conclusions.

This does not mean we must accept injustice, racism, the loss of our freedoms or the poisoning of our environment. To the contrary, we can and we must join with our brothers and sisters across the planet to fight back against these things.

The battle in a civil society, however, must take place first at the ballot box, then in the halls of government and in the courts. And yes, the battle must sometimes also be taken to the streets in the form of peaceful protests and, if necessary, civil disobedience.

Stifling the free speech of your neighbor while destroying their property in the dead of the night is not the answer.

With COVID-19 taking its daily toll, the economy in a free fall, the November elections looming only months away, the ongoing racial injustice caught on video seemingly on a daily basis and the increasing violence occurring on the streets of cities across the nation, the prospects of a positive path forward seem dimmer each day.

But, of course, we must not let these challenges overwhelm us, and we must instead rise to the occasion as a community, regardless of how others act elsewhere.

At my core I’m an optimist, and know that this too shall pass — all of it. The time of COVID-19 will pass, and eventually both our physical health and the health of our economy will recover and improve. The coming presidential election and the strife and discord that now seems ever-present will also pass.

To be clear, optimism without pragmatism is simply naivety that is sure to result in disappointment. Thus, we cannot stop the work.

Now more than ever, we must pull together. Now more than ever, the importance of accountability, forward-thinking, decisive and informed leadership at all levels, is critical. We must vote, and we must actively take ownership of our government. We must take civic responsibility seriously.

Now more than ever we need to live with mutual respect, civility and aloha. For our community to survive and to grow stronger during these extraordinary times, we must remember first and foremost that we are all ‘ohana, and that we are all in this together.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i 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 Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

  1. Mark September 2, 2020 2:21 am Reply

    Protect religious freedom by banning Muslims.
    Makes sense if you don’t think about it.

    1. Kauaidoug September 3, 2020 9:48 am Reply

      I saw that sign and wondered if it was a legally posted sign? Looks pretty solid. I would say it almost a structure rather than a big beautiful expression of misguided and dangerous politics. All we can do is look at that sign and make our own decision when it comes to the election. I know as a voter in Hawaii my vote won’t really make a big difference BUT I want my vote counted to show my support for the change that must come or our country is going to be in serious hurt. I want people around the world to know that Hawaii doesn’t stand for people like Trump and his ilk.

  2. Citizen September 2, 2020 3:07 am Reply

    Trump 2020!! How could anyone vote for Slo Joe? Look at him walk and speak. Weak, empty, washed up, a doormat for the radicals.

    1. Loladog September 2, 2020 5:17 pm Reply

      Anyone who thinks, has human values, and can spell the word slow is the answer to your question.

      1. Citizen September 3, 2020 7:23 am Reply

        Slo Joe gets interview questions from the press so his handlers can prepare answers. Slo Joe has his staff call on reporters in order so he doesn’t lose his place on the cheat sheet of responses. Despite all this, Slo Joe stumbles through softball interviews and continually embarrasses himself on the days he leaves his basement . Slo Joe is the weakest candidate in American history because the DNC manipulates primaries to try and find the most palatable candidate rather than letting the people choose. The DNC is the most dangerous and corrupt organization on the planet. Luckily they also happen to be very incompetent.

        1. DEMinSD September 4, 2020 4:20 am Reply

          OK, I’ll bite. Not that I agree with anything you claim, but I’ll take “Sloe” over a President that lies every time he speaks. And speaking of embarrassing himself, tRUMP’s 5th grade vocabulary is not befitting of the President of the greatest nation in the world. How long before he runs out of words that end in “ly”? tRUMP is not the President of the United States, he’s the President of Republican American’s. He’s deserted Democratic states and cities because they don’t support him. He runs the country like it’s HIS country. He skirts laws. He appoints family, friends, donors who are obviously not qualified to positions of great importance to do his bidding. And the GOP? We might as well replace them with jellyfish as none of them have a backbone to stand up to this clown. Can you spell DICTATOR?

    2. Pete Antonson September 3, 2020 2:25 pm Reply

      I believe Joe’s acceptance speech pretty well put the lie to this approach. Try to keep up, pal!

    3. Kelly September 5, 2020 7:17 am Reply

      Trump has exhibited sociopathic, dictator-like, racist, misogynist behavior for four years. He will destroy democracy because narcissists do not care. He was grimes to win at all costs by his mentors and he is a pathalogical liar. This is NOT leadership. He handled COVID in the worst way causing much cognitive dissonance so people did not know what to do. He blatantly incites violence and supports racist acts of aggression. Biden and Harris will get us back to a humanitarian society.

  3. Citizen Cane September 2, 2020 3:18 am Reply

    I had a slightly different take than Gary’s. I felt for some time that the unconscionable enormity of Trump’s transgressions and assaults upon our democracy called for unusual and extraordinary responses. And by that I mean actions that answer not to the law but to a patriotism which must be higher than any law—called for only during times of peril to a republic. I believe we are in such a time of peril. However I now feel something else. That a man like Trump could ascend to the presidency of this great nation calls into question its people. Scum floats above the churn. His election held up a mirror, and we have to be the change we want to see from now on. Therefore instead of using fists to stamp out Trump we must cast ballots to stamp out trumpism. If he is not voted out of office there will be more like him—the Tom Cottons, the Matt Gaitzes, the Tim Scotts, the Tucker Carlsons. A decisive electoral vanquish will hopefully ensure that trumpism has no future. And owing to Republican efforts to suppress the vote, disenfranchise voters, sabotage our postal system, curtail election interference briefings to Congress, condone Russian interference and otherwise gerrymander and tilt every table possible in order to win, the victory must be fairly fought as well as decisive.

  4. Steven McMacken September 2, 2020 3:53 am Reply

    Most of us would agree that defacing a banner because you don’t happen to agree with its message is unacceptable behavior — even if the message on the banner is misguided. It is naive to think that the hypocrite we have in the White House gives a hoot about anyone’s religious freedom. This is a person who cares only about himself and will say virtually anything if he thinks it will benefit him. That is why it is so critical that every individual who values freedom and human decency vote on November 3rd to toss this aberration out of office.

  5. nothings free September 2, 2020 6:01 am Reply

    If people harbor hate for the only person who can save our Country from it’s greedy and Big Government creating idiots, the fact remains that their actions and the results will negatively impact themselves the most. It’s simple! Trump gives us jobs, opportunities, smaller government, less regulations, more freedom, and a love for what really is the greatest Country on earth, which is proven by a vast majority of everyone in the world who will risk anything and everything to break the law for the opportunity to live here! The Democrats give us Big Government dead end jobs, less freedom, rioting, as well as Chicago, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Portland, Seattle, and scores of more Democrat run cesspool cities that are bankrupt, crime ridden, drug dens. These Democrat controlled cities are the most obvious symptom of the Democrat call to Socialism and Communism for all! It isn’t a coincidence that the most wealthy, pompous, murderous, and yes “evil” Politicians have all been created by Socialist/Communist States. A vote for any Democrat is a vote for your own demise!

    1. Loladog September 2, 2020 5:32 pm Reply

      nothings free: Let’s be sure to keep those non-citizens out of our country. Let’s build a wall, and have Mexico pay for it. Who is the most wealthy, pompous, and evil politician of our time, nothings free?

    2. Pete Antonson September 5, 2020 2:10 pm Reply

      If you look up “Big Government” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of donald J. (for genius) trump with one of his tiny hands holding a tiny pen.
      He has intruded into everything and spent more than anyone. The Government has never been bigger.

  6. rk669 September 2, 2020 6:17 am Reply

    Intolerant Leftist? Showing their Colors!

  7. Uncleaina September 2, 2020 6:31 am Reply

    Some kids threw paint on a Trump sign – how is this a big deal? This type of thing happens every election going back 50 years- grow up

  8. Dan Freund September 2, 2020 6:44 am Reply

    Well said. If we walk down the path of silencing those with whom we disagree we may find the destination is the silencing of our own voices.

  9. ParadiseLost September 2, 2020 7:11 am Reply

    To be fair, that’s a little more than a small sign in someones yard. Because of the politics of Hawaii it seems logical to conclude that the person who erected the Trump shrine was trying to elicit a negative reaction.

    I once saw a woman walking down the sidewalk at Kapa’a art walk wearing a Trump flag as a cape, with a trump tee shirt and a MAGA hat while live streaming herself from her phone. We waved and said ‘Aloha’. She said she was trying to get a reaction.

    I agree that we need to go high and respect people’s political beliefs, so we don’t give them what they want, but I think it’s worth noting they probably are seeking people to go low and that by ignoring such attention getting behavior we’re not giving them what they want.

  10. jkh September 2, 2020 7:50 am Reply

    It is a shame that a sign or poster makes someone so upset, but as can be seen in the events of today, tolerance is not a virtue anymore and free speech is eroding, but not from Republicans. President Trump has done amazing things for the economy, jobs, Korea, Middle East, Prison Reform, and he has kept his promises. He has been attacked and harassed by the Media since day one and yet he keeps on producing. The Country has become divided because of the radical left, not the right. It is absurd that the radical left is rioting, burning, looting, (mainly because of their hatred of Trump fueled by the cable news networks over the last 4 years) and then blame all of it on Trump. The left has manufactured so many false claims (Russia, racist, impeachment etc.) all without any evidence or merit. Trump has been good for America and is a much better candidate by far than Biden. Tell me why you are voting for Biden without mentioning Trump? You won’t be able to. Harris and Biden have encouraged the riots and protests because they want the country to appear divided under Trump. It isn’t. You will see on November 4th.

    1. Loladog September 2, 2020 5:45 pm Reply

      The country’s division is fueled by your President. He supports white supremicists and does not adequately denounce police / vigilante killings of unarmed citizens. How do you define “racist”? How’s that Korean thing working out for Kauai, the nearest US missile target?

      Border wall?

      1. jkh September 3, 2020 7:46 am Reply

        The cable news networks have been misleading the public. The only division comes from the left because they have been led to (wrongfully) hate him. Show me where the right are rioting, looting, and burning? Trump has denounced the violence so many times, the left has openly encouraged it, especially Kamala Harris.

        The media took his words about Charlottesville out of context. google the full quote.

        If Trump is a racist, does that make all of his supporters racist? You know that is not true.

        So tired of the Race Card, lets judge by character and not by race and identity politics. The left is consumed by race, not the right. Without Race the Democrats would have no platform and win no votes.

        I am over 50 years old and have never met a white supremist in my entire personal and professional life and I was in many organizations, professional and otherwise, if anything those organizations went out of their way to be inclusive, and where.

        We have black politicians, elected a black president twice, ended slavery, advanced civil rights, affirmative action, many multi millionaire blacks, famous black actors, and so on. If America and Trump are racists, then he/we suck at it.

        1. DEMinSD September 4, 2020 4:25 am Reply

          “If Trump is a racist, does that make all of his supporters racist? You know that is not true.”

          WOW. You don’t even realize what you say works both ways? If rioters are democrats, does that make all democrats rioters? tRUMP and his followers think so. Protester = Rioter? Hardly. You know that is not true.

      2. Reality Bites September 3, 2020 1:30 pm Reply

        Beyond any feelings and emotions toward “Bad Orange Man”, ah, like, do you have any facts to support racism, white supremacy, and not denouncing police killings of career criminals by the President??

        I’ll hold my breath.

    2. Pete Antonson September 3, 2020 2:34 pm Reply

      I glad you have Nov 4 circled since that just as accurate as everything else you wrote!

    3. Citizen Cane September 4, 2020 4:14 am Reply

      And you, please, tell us why Trump’s backers always talk about the “things he has done for the country” without mentioning the things he’s done TO it? Do you think there isn’t a price to pay for his behavior? Every time you give Trump a pass for one of his corrosive “antics”—whether he’s attacking someone or spreading lies, winking at a hate group or sewing division—the country is diminished. I needn’t list examples, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Pick any day, look at the news. And since it takes a lot more time to build stuff than tear it down the diminishing is taking a toll. Sooner than anyone wants, a freedom, a right, a bit of justice or some hard won progress gets lost for good. So ask yourself, how many pieces of my country am I willing to let go of for a bloc of hastily appointed judges, a tax break for the rich, a stock marked juiced on borrowed money and a half-built Mexican wall?

  11. Lawaibob September 2, 2020 8:31 am Reply

    I understand both sides of the sign thing: the sign owners are desperate for attention and the vandals are giving them that attention. Seems fine to me.
    Trump For Prison 2020!

  12. D Woods September 2, 2020 8:43 am Reply

    This is the community speaking in both directions.
    To put up the political sign is one side speaking.
    To tear it down or paint ball it is the other side speaking.
    Political signs should not be allowed.
    They are distracting.
    Isn’t there a sign ordinance?

  13. Aka September 2, 2020 8:57 am Reply

    To clarify, from Michelle Obama’s DNC speech:

    But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.

    1. HM September 2, 2020 8:57 pm Reply

      Voting against Biden. He said Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” Found that on youtube. What?! Biden is racist. Trump is glib, but at least he’s better than Biden.

      1. DEMinSD September 4, 2020 4:29 am Reply

        Let me guess…tRUMP isn’t racist because he’s done more for black people than any President in history, except, maybe, Abraham Lincoln”? Sound familiar? Are you that uninformed?

  14. LMat September 2, 2020 9:11 am Reply

    The inherent rebel in me says “Yea!! Right on!!”
    Anyway, isn’t a little vandalism considered “civil disobedience” tho…? Which you seem to condone above.
    I’d say a little paint on a Trump sign is far outweighed by the greater civil disobedience of not wearing masks and flouting the rules and regulations put in place to protect the greater community currently being perpetrated by the Trumpists…

  15. William Perri September 2, 2020 1:04 pm Reply

    Mahalo, Gary, for reminding us of who we are. Your letter supports democracy ,where we all have a right to express our opinions, but do not have the right to stop those who disagree – that is fascism.

  16. Hawaii citizen September 2, 2020 4:10 pm Reply

    Trump and his idiocies are not welcome in Hawaii. We don’t want more Trumpees! Go back to where you came from!

    1. Barry Dittler September 7, 2020 10:37 am Reply

      It’s nice to see you are infused with the Aloha spirit and are the face of the “tolerant’ left -NOT. This is what the left is all about, silencing anyone that disagrees with then and their leftist manifesto !!! Thanks for proving our point.

      1. Pete Antonson September 7, 2020 3:30 pm Reply

        If you check I think you’ll find that it’s the donald that fires anyone who disagrees with him! Idonald to your left, wow!

  17. Abe September 2, 2020 11:10 pm Reply

    “Poor kids are just as bright, just as talented, as white kids.”

    I am as brown as they come. Born and raised here, my parents are both Hawaiian. Growing up, we were poor, but my parents did the best they could like many in Hawaii.

    I don’t like politics. Trump and his arrogant, cocky attitude makes me dislike him. But I needed to decide who to support. I researched the candidates. When I dug into the actual work Trump has done, I was surprised. As much as I don’t want to admit it, Trump has done good by our country.

    Biden on the other hand has a more gentle demeanor. But I am finding out that Biden is really a bad choice. For starters, the above quote is attributed to him, which sounds like Biden believes all non-white people are stupid and without talent. Wow. Just. Wow.

    Biden seems reasonable but beneath the surface, he isn’t good. He seems to be projecting one thing, but stands for something else. Wikpedia states: “Some reports suggest that Biden opposed going forward with the May 2011 U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden.” That seems anti-American.

    And then there’s Hunter Biden and misdeeds in foreign countries. Wikipedia reports Biden’s son as “receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month” in Ukraine. He also partnered up with a company in China and some cover-ups ensued. But Biden stands by his son.

    Idk about you, but I’ll take the “lesser of two evils”. Biden scares me. Trump is rough but based on track record, I believe he will do right by us.

    1. Pete Antonson September 4, 2020 3:23 pm Reply

      Hunter Biden was a Board member of a major Oil and Gas Company in Asia. Major Oil and Gas Companies often pay their Board members more than 50K/mo. His department was in charge of international law pertaining to resource development in a variety of countries. He got his law degree from Yale and his international education (like many diplomats and both Clintons) from Georgetown U. He ran his own business advising on the law for international lobbying for 20 years.
      But FOX News said “Hey, 50K is a LOT of money, what’s going on here” and “He doesn’t have qualifications.”
      That’s ALL IT TOOK FOR YOU, wasn’t it?

  18. manawai September 3, 2020 7:43 am Reply

    It is the LEFT aka “liberals” that work tirelessly to prevent free speech. The LEFT is UNAMERICAN.

    1. DEMinSD September 4, 2020 4:31 am Reply

      Did I miss that yesterday was Opposite Day? Statements like that just fly in the face of actual facts. But, based on your comment, your not big on facts, are you?

    2. Pete Antonson September 5, 2020 2:15 pm Reply

      Finally, we now know that manawai translates to McCarthyism!

  19. jkh September 3, 2020 7:49 am Reply

    That is very tolerant of you and such a well thought out and reasoned argument.

  20. LTEreader September 3, 2020 10:53 am Reply

    Great letter Gary, and I agree vandalism isn’t right.

    Trumpsters it’s also important to note: “Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “tsunami of untruths” emanating from the Oval Office. The paper’s Fact Checker column said Trump hit the milestone on 9 July, a day on which he delivered 62 such claims.”

    Where’s your integrity? THIS is ok with you? And how’s that terrific, better than Obamacare, gonna’ love it, everyone can afford it > medical insurance working out for ya’ll? Or the wall Mexico was going to pay for? LOL.
    At least Biden has experience, and already helped pull us out of the muddy mess Bush left. Trump slid into the White House on the strong economy Obama/Biden worked to rebuild for 8 years. The foundation was there, then Trump tried to take credit for it soon thereafter. How anyone can’t see that is pretty astounding.

  21. Pete Antonson September 4, 2020 6:32 pm Reply

    JKH, you asked for it, do you remember when it started in Minneapolis? The 3rd precinct building went up in flames and was the backdrop for every story, remember? Remember all the “Ain’t they awful on FOX and Friends? Sure you do, you absolutely do!
    Well, guess who has been charged with setting that fire, Mr. whiter than white bread Branden Michael Wolfe, member of a right wing white nationalist extremist group and infiltrator of the BLM protest.
    How do you like them apples?

    1. AttiladaHun September 5, 2020 3:26 pm Reply

      What proof do you have other than speculation, that he was associated with some unnamed right wing group? You seem to be informed, what group?
      And he ‘infiltrated BLM’ to do some burnin’ and lootin’!! Hahaha
      Stop covering for left wing rioters

  22. Margaret September 5, 2020 10:20 pm Reply

    I know the Media is slanted and have experienced what Trump is experiencing firsthand. We must do our own research and not be so quick to accept everything the Media dishes out. Years ago, I attended a meeting on Kauai. The Kauai newspaper was not biased but presented both sides of the issue allowing the reader to decide. However, when I flew to Oahu and read their newspaper, I was astonished that they slanted the article to one point of view and even made the photos biased. Wow! Ever since, I do my own research and oftentimes find that the Media is slanted. Ouch! I have tons of reasons to vote for Trump…too many to name here. I enjoy my Freedoms as portrayed in both the Hawaii Constitution and in the US Constitution. Let’s keep it that way! Trump 2020

  23. behappy September 6, 2020 9:43 am Reply

    Interesting fact: The leader of the Neo-Nazi Unite The Right Charlottesville march has endorsed Biden for president.

    Beware of the intentions of those you vote for. Biden has no clue what day it is, where he is and mistakenly introduces his wife as his sister in one of his speeches. The man is just a puppet on a string for the Socialist party. If you want socialism then vote for him.

    I prepare to vote for someone that has been mistreated for the last four years by his political opponents, the media and other nations that want a weak USA. Yes he is rough around the edges but none of us is perfect. At the center his heart is for this nation, a strong nation!

  24. Barry Dittler September 7, 2020 10:53 am Reply

    Reading Gary Hoosiers article, one has to only read one sentence “But we must not allow President Trump, nor his supporters, to goad us into negative behavior that accomplishes nothing except to justify their claims against us” to see what he is really feeling.

    How is having a Trump sign “goading” anyone. Is it because his supporters are totally intolerant of any opinions that they don’t support. While he superficially condemns the vandalism, that one sentence is very revealing. One has to wonder, if damaging the Trump sign is not enough next time , will burning down the owners house finally silence them. If not, what level of violence will the perpetrators find sufficient to achieve their goal of silencing dissent. This appears to be what is happening on the main land. Conform or we burn you out ! Is this what we really want for Kauai.

    1. Pete Antonson September 7, 2020 3:34 pm Reply

      Straw Man argument. Gary didn’t say the sign was goading.

  25. ToolMon September 8, 2020 10:00 am Reply

    It’s so easy to see those whom only know what the lame stream media says about Trump and the work of wordsmiths “TELLING” YOU WHAT TRUMP SAID, RATHER THAN SEEING AND HEARING FOR YOURSELF DIRECTLY. I suppose there is some human nature in believing what one wants to believe, rather than confronting a contradiction, as in the case against Trump, because you don’t care for his personality, and so refuse to see the achievements. We are not voting for a favorite sports team, or color. And there could be no more proof of this, then refusing to see Biden’s immense limitations and his record. In the past I have favored a demo, or gop candidates. Maybe you only see darkness because YOU ARE IN THE DARK.

  26. SayNoToJoe September 8, 2020 2:11 pm Reply

    Biden supports BLM and Antifa, the mobs burning down mainland cities. Trump does not. Thats enough for me to vote for Trump. I want peace where I live, not turmoil and destruction. And I believe the silent majority of Americans want peace also. Trump will win in November. Wait and see.

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