By Mufi Hannemann
After much thought and contemplation, I believe it is time for me to resign from the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
It is an extremely difficult decision because the Democratic Party revolutionized Hawaii. It made our society more equitable, more fair, and more inclusive. It made these islands a better place for all of us.
But just as the national Republican Party has often been dominated by its far-right ideologues, the Democratic Party has its share of those who advocate partisan extremism. The party activists’ unsuccessful bid to eliminate Hawaii’s open primary system, which they are still challenging; their threats to expel Democratic public officials and members who do not toe the party line; and their other ‘true believer’ rhetoric goes against everything the party has stood for since its rise to power in the 1950’s.
Rather than becoming a unifying force for the greater good of all Hawaii, the party is now divided, with many members unhappy over the abandonment of the values of inclusion espoused by party leaders like John Burns, George Ariyoshi, Dan Inouye, Patsy Mink, Spark Matsunaga, John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, Daniel Akaka and so many others.
Growing up in Kalihi, I fondly recall the Democratic Party of my youth, when it clearly championed the little guy and prioritized the needs of the working class. Everyone felt welcomed because it was all about encouraging people irrespective of their ethnicity, education, or social status to pursue the American Dream.
I believe most Americans are fed up and frustrated with the partisanship that has paralyzed Congress and many state and local governments across the nation. They’re tired of the bickering that has stymied our progress on the economy, our education system, our quality of life, our aging infrastructure, and meaningful reforms affecting everything from business to the social safety net for those whom it was intended to help–especially our seniors, to campaign reform.
Greater numbers of Americans are identifying themselves as independents. In my discussions with the Hawaii Independent Party it is clear that HIP wants to bring energy, new ideas, and creative members to help shape public policy beyond the 40-plus percent who identify themselves as Independents, but for the state as a whole.
We need to bear in mind that it is the role of elected officials to reflect the will of the people and the values that are inherent in the community. This philosophy and perspective should always supersede a political agenda. Government leaders shouldn’t rule over the people; government leaders should serve them.
If one is interested in being dominated by party politics there are lots of choices to maintain the status quo, but if your focus is putting what is best for Hawaii’s people first, the answer can be found in the clear choice that the new Hawaii Independent Party will offer. That’s the big idea behind HIP and why I am motivated and want to become part of their movement and cause.