I love American pragmatism. Our nation has a great tradition of making adjustments if something doesn’t work — we simply change it. We learn from our mistakes and move on.
Look at the political landscape over the past four years. The American people lost faith in a Republican president and Congress and replaced them with a Democratic president and Congress.
Now it looks like things are about to change again on Nov. 2. It appears that whenever either party takes us too far in one direction, the American people pull us back.
But is this national pragmatism transferable and applicable to the state and local level? Hawaii has moved back and forth between two extremes for the past 100 or so years. Until 56 years ago, Republicans ran everything. Now Democrats run everything, with 90 percent of the legislative seats held by Democrats. The so-called “Big Five” corporations have become the “Big Four” unions in power — and history repeats itself.
Hawaii’s history teaches us that when one party, Republican or Democrat, maintains 90 percent of control over the government, that party stops working for the people and starts working for itself. The party caters to the special interests that keep it in power. This is not an indictment of any political party; it is simply the human condition of governments.
So is Hawaii ready to move back to the center? We Hawaii Republicans certainly think so and have prepared a game plan to get there. The 2011 Legislative Action Plan, which was unveiled at our unity lunch the Sunday following primary election day, forecasts the 2011 legislative session and our caucus’ game plan in addressing some of Hawaii’s most challenging issues. It is a clear representation of what the people of Hawaii can expect from Republicans in the 2011 Legislature.
Some of the highlights of the Legislative Action Plan include:
» Passage of legislation that would cut residential electrical bills by making outfitting our homes with photovoltaic systems affordable with no money down and 20-year loan amortization payments largely paid off on energy cost savings;
» A solemn and serious promise not to increase taxes or fees that would raise the cost of living; and
» Term limits for the state Legislature to allow for new ideas and a new generation of leaders in the Legislature.
Criticisms of pledges and promises aside, one thing cannot be argued: Republicans at the national and local level are not the “Party of No.” Like the congressional Republicans’ “Pledge to America,” which outlined specific legislation that congressional Republicans will initiate to increase jobs, cut spending, reform Congress and enhance our national defense, Hawaii’s Republicans pledge in our 2011 Legislative Action Plan to overhaul education, create jobs and reform the government bureaucracy.
The people of Hawaii want change. Hawaii has again claimed the No. 1 spot in highest electricity, food, gasoline and rent prices and medical costs. We also pay the highest taxes per capita and have the highest credit-card debt in the nation. We have some of the nation’s worst roadways, and despite constant increases in the education budget, our students still do not see the benefits of this funding, and our schools rank 47th among the states.
Why has this persisted, and why does Hawaii resist change and stick with the status quo? What we lack in Hawaii is balance in the governance equation, which keeps Hawaii from seriously talking about any real change.
If either party takes us too far in one direction, the American people will pull us back. The question remains if Hawaii will make any pragmatic moves toward the center in the coming election. We think they will.