I lost faith in the judicial system when OJ got away with killing his wife.
I lost faith in the “progressive” movement when it adopted totalitarian tactics to fight GMOs.
I lost faith in the electoral system when Florida's hanging chads gave Dubya the presidency.
But still, I value the rule of law as the cornerstone of democracy. I respect freedom of speech, even when it's wrong. And I always vote, even though I'm never 100% happy with my choices.
Just like I offer sincere congratulations when people get married, even though most end in divorce.
Why? Because the alternatives — including despair and cynicism — are worse.
And also because I'm a student of history. I'm familiar with those periods (still ongoing) in human evolution when people — and animals — had no rights, when the 1% held even more sway than it does today, when so many were denied the vote.
It wasn't all that long ago, as my boss at the Alliance for Science writes, that Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the suffragette movement with the Declaration of Sentiments:
She challenged her status of no right to vote; no representation in government; being “legally dead” if not married; no right to own property; no right to divorce; little access to higher education; subordinate positions in the church; no ability to control her own reproductive well being.
We're making progress, but too many women still live under this level of oppression. Including right here in the US of A:
So I keep showing up to participate in the process, flawed though it may be.
But I also try to keep it in perspective. I've got friends who can barely eat and sleep, due to their anxiety over the presidential election. Others have written folks off because of their political views. I've got colleagues overseas who are likening America to Germany in 1932-33.
Take a deep breath now. It's just an election. And somehow we'll deal, whatever the results. Though I know a lot of Maui folks are worried about the kooky "Aloha Aina" candidates getting in and wreaking havoc there.
Which leads me to Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser, who is holding on by his fingernails.
A reader recently shared his prediction for the Kauai County Council election:
Unfortunately, I am betting on Hooser getting lucky. A number of people who did not vote in the primary are now voting for Hooser thanks to the work and amount of money he was able to spend. Besides those who are Hooser people, there are a number of people who do not like the way Rapozo and Kagawa are running their agenda and so are voting for Hooser for various reasons in an attempt to stymie Rapozo and Kagawa. I think besides Mason, Kipu Kai is also vulnerable.
After the primary, I thought the general race would mainly be about Mason. At this late date, I have changed my mind. The top 5 are easy — Kawakami, Kaneshiro, Kagawa, Rapozo & Brun (Kaneshiro & Kagawa are interchangeable as far as who gets more votes). For the final 2 seats, Hooser, Yukimura, Kualii, Chock & Apalla (not necessarily in order) are the contenders!
Yes, the six and seven slots are definitely up for grabs, and Hooser has raised and spent staggering sums in an attempt to secure one of them. According to the most recent campaign reports, Hooser raised $104,728.93 and spent $104,068.62, leaving him $3,436.60 in the hole. (He started his re-election campaign in debt and still has unpaid expenditures.)
Much of his war chest came from the same people, giving multiple times. Anti-dairy activists Bridget Hammerquist and Eileen Kechloian are up to $900 and $2,000 respectively. Surfrider's Gordon LaBedz and Carl Berg have given $500 and $200, respectively. John Harder's tally now stands at $800. Kauai Garden Cottages has given a total of $1,100, while Kauai Dreams Realty is up to $850. Mark Sheehan of Maui's anti-ag SHAKA has contributed $400. Contractor Rob Brower is up to $300, as is Big Island Sen. Russell Ruderman.
Since he took ninth in the primary, Hooser has spent $39,525.65, nearly all of it on advertising.
So it's possible he may well be able to buy himself a seat.
Especially when compared to Mason Chock, who raised $17,978.54 and spent $17,715.09.
And JoAnn Yukimura, who raised $50,731.80 and spent $58,711.20.
Then there's KipuKai Kualii, who raised $36,068.33 and spent $34,671.36.
Now compare that to shoo-in Derek Kawakami, who raised $62,283.98 and spent $90,728.36, leaving him with a deficit of $11,352.82. Why did he spend so much when his election was assured?
Mel Rapozo raised $35,255 and spent $39,593.34, leaving him with a surplus of $11,882.96.
Arthur Brun also has a surplus ($9,574.18) after raising $50,592.59 and spending $38,140.27.
Arryl Kaneshiro, meanwhile, has a whopping surplus of $50,317.23, after raising $63,357 and spending $50,975.95. (He started with $37,936.18 in his campaign coffers.)
Ross Kagawa also has an impressive surplus — $25,540.22 — after raising $47,656.20 and spending $31,871.84.
Which brings us to newcomer Juno Apalla. She raised $15,421.23 and spent $15,889.29, ending with a deficit of $468.06.
I understand that some folks are looking for someone to keep an eye on Mel and the boys. If that's your goal, consider Juno. She's young, she's eager, she's decent, and she brings a important perspective as an immigrant from the Philippines. When I asked her why she decided to run, I got this unusual, and refreshing, response:
I am curious to disprove my hypothesis that the government isn't working for me, therefore I will not work with the government. Yes, I held on to the hope that the government still worked for the people, yet hardly found any evidence or reason for how it does. I wanted to understand the reasons why I felt disenfranchised by and from the political process. Simply, I didn't believe that my government worked for me, and did not want to give up trying to believe that I matter to my government, which sent me into a spiral of dissenting thoughts like if I have a crooked government here at home, why would I choose to stay when there may be other governments out there that actually works for the majority of the people. The syndrome of looking for a greener grass pasture elsewhere.
This attitude poisoned my ability to wholeheartedly dive into and participate with the events in front of me, especially here on Kaua'i. By going through the process, I am a witness to many reasons as to how and why my government does not work for me.
However, most importantly, I also became a witness to the reasons why and how my government DOES work for me, and most importantly, I learned that it does not work WITHOUT me. That means the missing factor all this time was me. I was absent in the discussions that shaped government. I could be doing more to serve the greater good. We all could be doing more. It does not work without you. It does not work without our citizens, individually and collectively. That's why our government "feels" broken.
Yes, we all could be doing more. But the least we can do is vote — and wisely, with an eye toward the future.