VOTE! Guest Post: Hooser on the fear of speaking out in Hawaii – #politics

Aloha friends on every island. Hope all are doing as well as can be expected during these challenging times. I understand there are many competing priorities, and I deeply appreciate your taking the time and energy needed to participate in the primary election which is now upon us.

Yesterday was the final day to actually drop your “mail-in” ballot in the mail, but you can still vote in person, every day this week until August 8th. (see statewide voting location list and endorsements below)

If restarting and diversifying the economy is important to you; if protecting the environment is a priority of yours; and if you believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week deserves to earn a wage sufficient to pay for a dry, safe place to live, three meals a day and basic medical care – then here is a complete Statewide list of endorsed candidates (House, Council, OHA, and more) that you will want to vote for.

Maui Friends: You have 4 incredibly awesome candidates running for the State House –  My hope is for a second #MauiMiracle and all 4 are elected. You have done this in the past, and you can do it again – just gotta show up and vote.

If you live in or near Kakaako, McCully or Downtown Honolulu – Read “The election of Kim Coco Iwamoto and the defeat of House Speaker Representative Scott Saiki is critically important.”

Kim Coco Iwamoto believes District 26 voters want a Rep who will serve them better than incumbent Scott Saiki.

*Stay tuned for future emails highlighting other candidates on all islands.

The opportunity to speak without fear

Walter Ritte is giving voters a choice to replace Rep. Lynn DeCoite in District 13

As I go about my work, speaking and writing on issues pertaining to policy and politics, people often talk about their fear of speaking out publicly on issues and candidates.

None of us is free of that fear, because we are all vulnerable to bullying, be it political or corporate.  But now more than ever it is vital to the life of our community and the survival of our planet that we each speak up.

Voting is the ultimate opportunity to speak without fear of retribution. 

The fear sometimes comes from simply living and working in a small community and not wanting to offend friends and neighbors.

Too often though, the fear is based on the reality of politics. You are employed by government, your business does government work, or perhaps you are an advocate in the legislative arena. If you speak out against “leadership”, they can hurt you. They can hurt your future employment prospects. They can hurt your business. They can hurt the issues you might be working on.

Those who advocate for environmental protection, economic justice, open government, and the rights of the disenfranchised, hesitate to publicly criticize the do-nothing “policy of neglect” currently embraced by legislative leadership. There is a justifiable fear that these same “leaders” will kill or block an advocate’s policy proposals (bills), to teach them a lesson. The threat and the reality of retribution from adversaries both public and private is real.

When political and corporate forces unite the bullying and thuggery can be formidable.

Look what happened to former Governor Ben Cayetano. He ran for Honolulu Mayor on an anti-rail platform and the big money development interests shredded him. Publicly and repeatedly they attacked his character spreading lies, half-truths, rumor, and innuendo. He lost the election, sued for defamation and won. But of course, it was too late. The personal toll it took on him and his family must have been significant.

I experienced a small taste of this treatment myself during the Bill 2491 experience on Kauai in 2013. After all, the chemical companies of the world, Syngenta, Monsanto, Dupont, BASF and Dow Chemical (yes, they have all changed their name but not their spots) – have demonstrated that they will spend millions, co-opt members of the community, and basically do whatever they need to do in order to maximize profits. They operate globally in political environments that make the Kauai County Council look like kindergarten. They eat guys like me for lunch. Or at least that is what they try to do. Truth is, guys like me don’t digest too well: we don’t go away, and we never stop fighting back.

The ability and willingness to speak up and speak out is a powerful tool and potent weapon of its own. But it also brings with it pain. That’s why many choose to shut the front door, be quiet, and be happy for the legislative policy crumbs that do eventually come their way. Some front-line public interest advocates make the conscious choice to stay quiet and criticize privately.

But we cannot afford that anymore. I honestly believe that in this moment, making your voice–and your vote count– matters more than ever. I have spent nearly 20 years working in the political arena. More than ever, I believe we need to elect a new crop of leaders.

Legislators who can effectively articulate their positions on issues and take the initiative to do so publicly have more “power” on the floor of the House and the Senate than those who accept their marching orders and vote in silence. Citizen advocates, especially when they band together and speak out united on an issue, have tremendous power and protection from retribution.

And that is the secret to winning when dealing with political bullies and their threats. They push you, you push them back. The good news is we’re dealing with people who must be reelected every two or four years in order to maintain their power. Smart legislators soon realize that it makes more sense to accommodate and embrace a just and righteous cause than to retaliate out of ego or personal spite.

So, don’t engage in political gutter-fighting if you don’t have the stomach for it. But one thing you can and must do is VOTE. If, despite the urgency of the moment, you don’t want to get involved in the public side of things, at the very least please complete your ballot and speak truth to power in the privacy of your home. Encourage others to do so as well. Even if they have not registered as voters yet, Hawaii allows, same-day voter registration. 

You have a choice this year. You can elect and hold accountable individuals who put the public interest above their own. Or you can do nothing and retain the politics as usual, school-yard, adolescent, big dog, immature antics, and in-fighting we have seen at the top levels of our state legislature. Hawaii has already paid too high a price because of failures in leadership. You can do something about changing the status quo.

The choice is yours, really. Please VOTE.

Gary Hooser
If we have not yet met, the information contained at will give you a better idea of where I am coming from, and where I am going…and thus the reason for these emails.

Please consider forwarding this to friends and family – and encourage/insist that they also vote now and not risk waiting longer.


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Posted in 2020 Elections, I BLOG, Uncategorized
One comment on “VOTE! Guest Post: Hooser on the fear of speaking out in Hawaii – #politics
  1. wally inglis says:

    It cracked me up when i heard Gary’s ballot was returned by Elections because of signature questions.  Maybe retaliation for speaking out??

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