The Only State in The US Designed To Be A One-Party Monopoly
Hawaii’s journey to a one-party system is a result of different political choices made over the past 200 years. Understanding this journey is vital in dealing head-on with modern Hawaii and its political challenges
After the death of Kamehameha the Great his wife Queen Kaahumanu and his son Liholiho (Kamehameha II) chose to emulate the British monarchy system.
Establishing a monarchy supported by a Hawaiian aristocracy would seem a natural choice in the transition to a more western style of governance. But, establishing an aristocracy in a world moving away from such systems has led to much of what we grapple with today.
By Kamehameha the Third’s reign the attempted equal division of land between a handful of Ali’i and the thousands of ordinary native Hawaiians in the Great Mahele of 1848 further helped to tighten the control of an aristocracy (Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian) over the common people.
One can only imagine how different the outcome would have been if the Great Mahele had the wherewithal and foresight to develop a large native Hawaiian middleclass. Instead, it further concentrated landownership into far fewer hands.
This concentration of land and power climaxed in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of an interim Republic of Hawaii government.
Though calling itself a “republic” it’s real task was to protect the interest of the seven dozen inter- connected families and businesses controlling nearly half the land in the islands.
Because this landed aristocracy outlived the Hawaiian monarchy the inevitable outcome was an oligarchy and, following the US annexation, this oligarchy assembled a territorial government designed to protect and continue a monopolistic political system in perpetuity.
Hence, Hawaii both as a territory and state has inherited a political foundation that neglected much of the American democratic process and works to concentrate and restrict political power.
One glaring example of this is the absence of Incorporated Municipalities or independent cities.
Independent cities exist by the tens of thousands throughout the US mainland. The formation of Hawaii territorial/state government eliminated this possibility in favor of merging 19th century political patronage with the remnant of Hawaiian royal prerogatives in the City and County system.
Independent cities residing in a regular county system bring representation closet to the people. As well, they are laboratories of democracy able to build competitive political influence and generate new ideas.
People in Hawaii are accustomed to not having this sort of freedom and political power where people on the mainland would be outraged to the point of rebellion if someone attempted to take that away from them.
Overturning Hawaii’s one-party system can’t be done by a political opposition party saying, “Put us back in charge of the monopoly”, but has to be the voice of reformers saying, “We have a better way”.
Waiting for the existing Democratic party monopoly to stumble so badly as to open the possibility of a Republican resurgence is an injustice to the people of Hawaii. Hawaii growth and opportunity is stunted because it is the least political diverse state in the Union.
At least half the voting age populace has effectively no voice in Hawaii’s government. New ideas and bold new initiatives will only take place when full representation in a healthy two-party system is finally made possible for the people of Hawaii.
Building A Modern Two-Party System In Hawaii
- The existing Republican party in Hawaii is founded, structured, and inherited from the landed aristocracy of the Big Five era.
The existing state party also has the distinction of being the worst performing GOP affiliate in the US. This is despite there being a high identification in the general population with Republican party ideals.
This lack of enthusiasm or trust in the existing GOP in Hawaii is the death knell for any rise in political fortunes. People vote for either a person and/or a party. Without a radical reformation of the existing state GOP the additional 100-150 thousand voters needed to bring the Republican party in Hawaii into parity with the Democrat party is an impossible task.
A New Republican Party of Hawaii is needed to liberate the reform and renewal power of republican ideals from the debilitating legacy of the existing party’s historic connection with the aristocrats of the plantation era.
- Building a counter governing vision to the Democrat party monopoly in Hawaii through non-profits.
Expecting people to support abandoning 70 years of one-party dominance means acting in ways that show foresight and leadership. Demonstrating a commitment to innovation and reform by rebuilding the Republican party in Hawaii opens the door to new and better ways of serving the people.
Developing non-profits that have the talent and financing needed to think outside the box will prepare the way with both on-going public discourse and in structuring proposed legislation will greatly assist in a renaissance of republican fortunes in our state.
Some potential areas of study could be:
- Develop an outline of how separate towns in Hawaii could become incorporated municipalities to ascertain cost, impact, and potential benefit along with a conversion to regular county structures.
- Study the full cultural and economic impact of an effective inter-island ferry system.
- Develop an all-inclusive view of energy cost, land use and economic development to counter the present anti-development, anti-low-cost energy mindset.
- Study the impact of all Hawaiian lands and fiscal assts being removed from state control and being placed in a corporate trust under the full control of native Hawaiians.
- Examine the remnants of the landed aristocracy and the impact of large areas of Hawaii being outside of the public trust. Examine attitudes and stigma’s that hold Hawaii citizens back from full participation in our shared blessings of freedom and prosperity.
- A school voucher system. Schools Boards with at least half the people elected. Breaking-up the centralized DOE.
Using a method of year-round innovation and contact with people at the community level while developing and expanding on better ideas is a proven method of gaining cultural/political influence.
Changing politics in Hawaii cannot be accomplished without hard work, but with a strategic vision that utilizes the talent of Hawaii’s innovative and dedicated people it is a doable project.