Quick, do you know your US Congressional District? Do you know who are your US Senators? Do you know who represents you in the Hawaii House and Senate? If you were able to answer any of these questions, congratulations are in order! The truth of the matter is that many voters in Hawaii don’t regularly follow politics. To go even further, if it weren’t for television ads, I’d be surprised if the average voter could pick Senate President, Colleen Hanabusa out of a lineup. Sadly we have become a people who will only get involved in our community when something drastic happens to us. Take for instance the Furlough Friday fiasco of our public schools. The writing had been on the wall for the last few years. The state was operating on a budget that it could not sustain. Parents and community members were for the most part silent during this time. Now the situation has hit everyone and now the community has chosen to rally around the children.
The Furlough Fridays were just another in the long line of people ignoring problems until it is standing at the front steps. In the age of information proliferation, it is absurd to think that people still go to the ballot boxes and pick the name they recognize most. With the amount of information floating about, voters continue to blindly check a box because the candidate is a Democrat or Republican. Hawaii, since its inception into the Union, has been a heavy Democrat controlled state. Voters have gotten accustomed to looking for the D or R next to a candidate’s name and ignoring what the candidate may have said or done. Hawaii voters tend to be over the age of 40 and identify with people based on emotion rather than logic. In fact, Hawaii is the prime example of old-time politics. It was a time where people cared more about being friends than about what was going to be done for the community.
Hawaii has seen its economy savaged by high oil prices and high taxes. Hawaii is now one of the most expensive cities to do business in the entire world. The problem has been compounded by the inability of Hawaii’s voters to elect people with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. Many older voters have expressed concerns that the younger politicians will try to move Hawaii away from the days of tight-knit communities and friendly neighborhoods. They fear that the young people of Hawaii have no connection to Hawaii. They are right in one regard. Many young people in Hawaii have found it difficult to be successful here because of the old attitude towards business. Traditional thinking is to wait patiently while the elders go about their business. Traditional thinking stipulates that promotion will come when those at the top are ready to step down. This type of thinking provides no room for new ideas and fresh people. This tradition has led to a large deficit and children being kept out of school. Hawaii is the epitome of cronies run amuck!
At this point in time, the future of Hawaii hinges on the youth of Hawaii. The future hinges on the voters that were not alive when Hawaii became a state. These voters have the opportunity to bring about meaningful change to Hawaii. We must take the torch from the older generation and run with it. We must push the envelope further and further until we get what we need. It is on us to guide our state into the 21st century and beyond. We must work together and become a more informed society. We must use all the resources available and ask our candidates the tough questions. We must pressure our politicians to do the right things.
Hawaii has the potential to lead the country and the world. The diversity of people and ideas that are found here are endless. We can bring real change to our communities. The key is to get informed and get involved.