Full circle

November 16th, 2012

Dante Carpenter, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, has sent a letter to state House Democrats urging them not to turn to the seven Republicans in the chamber to settle a leadership impasse.

House Speaker Calvin Say and Rep. Joseph Souki and a dissident faction have divided the House’s 44 Democrats over who should control the chamber.

Carpenter argued that the net result of turning to the Republicans would be that half of the Democrats would be empowering a “super-minority” of Republicans at the expense of the other Democrats.

My concern is that the result of many hundreds of campaign volunteers, thousands of volunteer hours, out-of-pocket expenses, etc., will have been ignored. These combined efforts that produced a huge turnout which helped ensure success for nearly every Democratic Party Candidate, clearly affirmed the desire for Democratic leadership in the House. To cater to the Republican super-minority would fly-in-the-face of the wishes of the electorate and could be problematic going forward!

As an equally disastrous outcome, the voting public could become quickly disillusioned and disenchanted with the leadership, or lack thereof, for not finding common ground and pursuing a course of objectivity as a function of the DPH Platform, i.e., action to benefit those voters’ needs versus the individual personalities and vanities of certain elected officials.

Carpenter, of course, was famously part of Senate President Dickie Wong’s Democratic-Republican Coalition in 1981. Former Gov. Ben Cayetano — who was then a senator in Wong’s faction with Carpenter and now-Gov. Neil Abercrombie — described the coalition in his autobiography as a “milestone in Hawaii politics.”

Wong turned to Republicans to obtain the 13 votes necessary to organize the Senate after Democrats were deadlocked at 10 to 7.

Cayetano wrote that establishment Democrats — like Carpenter is doing today — criticized Wong’s move.

I was unmoved by the criticism. There were enough examples to show that, when it suited their purpose, the Democratic establishment was willing to cross party lines to help Republicans defeat Democrats.

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