In their September 23 celebration over Senator Daniel Akaka’s primary win, the Democrats in Hawaii miss that they made a significant mistake in selecting the weaker of two candidates. Few mainstream Hawaii Democrats, however, will admit to their mistake, because few are category three politicians.
What is a category three politician? One who is issue based. Consider the words of Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister of England from 1874-80, he observed: "Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests." There should be more politicians today who are committed to researching the issues, communicating them truthfully, and then coming up with creative solutions to the problems confronting us. This, not party loyalties or personal ambition, is what will benefit the majority of the people. Unfortunately too many politicians in each party are the category one and two variety, as can be illustrated from either party:
Category one are those politicians that are interested in promoting themselves. Issues and party loyalties are just a means to an end of personal benefit and attention. Bill Clinton might be the preeminent candidate for this kind of politician. He governed by public opinion polls, and appears to hold no convictions or values as he shakes his finger at right wing conspirators. Metaphorically and literally he would more willingly sleep with someone else’s wife then his own, or perhaps he prefers the other person’s.
Category two are those who play for the party no matter how unpleasant it might be. Mayor Stephen Laffey’s primary race against Senator Chaffee of Rhode Island might illustrate this type. Chaffee has no discernable stance in his voting record that makes him a Republican. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, spent about one million dollars helping Chaffee beat Laffey in the primary. Apparently what was important to Senator Elizabeth Dole, chair of the NRSC, was keeping a seat in the Republican Party despite how un-Republican the Senator sitting in it might be. This is also the lingering accusation surrounding Representative Mark Foley. Was the Republican Party willing to overlook his alleged buggering to keep a seat in the Republican camp?
Representative Ed Case had a pro-business message of promoting lower health care costs for businesses and in repealing the Jones Act. These two issues should have been debated with Akaka who turned down all challenges. The Republican Candidate Cynthia Thielen appears to want nothing to do this these issues; instead she is attacking Akaka on not being liberal enough, particularly when Akaka voted to allow oil drilling in Alaska. Where now will the 107,115 voters for Case turn to advocate for their pro-business issues?
The solution lies back with the voters. Voters need to be committed not to people, not to the party line, but to issues. Case came out with a message promising achievable improvement that would have benefited the majority. Akaka came out with the message, "I’m a nice guy," (category one) and "The party machine supports me" (category two). The 2008 election starts on November 8. If voters are angry with the results of November 7, they should seek out and invest in candidates that promote their issues.
Mark Beatty MA, THM, PHD, MBA, JD practices law in Kaneohe Hawaii (www.tbadk.com). He was formerly a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Hawaii (www.electmarkbeatty.com) For Mark’s other articles see www.bestideashawaii.com.