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HOOSER: The cards are stacked in our favor

It’s easy to be a cynic and in these times of hardship and turmoil, it’s very hard to be optimistic.

But we must have hope, we must dream and believe in a better world, and we must work hard to turn that hope and those dreams into reality.

Otherwise what options do we have? Give up? Roll over? Just give them the keys, move to the side, and look the other way?

Fat chance. Not in our neighborhood, and not on our watch.

Think about for a second, that moment in the future when our children and grandchildren will ask the question, “Where were you Dad? Mom? Grandpa? Grandma?”

“Where were you when the planet was burning, when thousands of our neighbors lived under bridges and in bushes at the side of the road, and when children were dying and the world did nothing?”

We of course must be prepared to tell them and show them, that win, lose, or draw, we were on the right side of history. We must be able to look them in the eye and tell them that we fought hard for them, and through our collective action the world is a better place. Still imperfect perhaps, still with more work to do, but a better place nonetheless.

I’m actually feeling a sense of hope and optimism today in our local community, focused on local issues. Perhaps Hawai‘i can after-all, emulate the 2023 Minnesota legislature.

In a single year, Minnesota passed legislation that included: free breakfast and lunch for all children in school; a state-run paid family and medical leave program; legalized recreational cannabis; free in-state college tuition; a reduction of taxes for low and middle income households; a ban on PFAS “forever chemicals”; codified abortion rights; boosted funding for schools and more.

Hawai‘i could be poised to do something similar. The bills are on the table, the hearings have been scheduled, advocates from throughout the islands are paying attention and sending in their testimony. It’s an election year. Perhaps I’m being naive, or perhaps now is the time for the passage of good, forward-thinking public policy.

This could be a watershed year for Hawai’i. We could step up and ensure our friends and family on Maui are treated with the respect and priority they deserve, and we can take some big steps down a positive path of change that supports and provides affordable housing for local residents, funds our public schools properly, protects our health and natural environment, removes barriers once and for all for the LGBTQ community, and levels the elections playing field for future generations. There is also growing momentum in support of global peace and a reduction of the military footprint in our islands — starting with Pohakuloa.

Yes, we can actually do this.

Or not. This year could also turn out like so many others. If we’re lucky a few crumbs are thrown our way and a few baby steps are taken in the right direction.

The determining factor lies not in the mood or the inclination of the politicians but rather in the commitment or lack thereof by you and me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting too old to accept crumbs and baby steps.

Bottom line: When we show up, we win. If not, well then it’s our own damn fault.

The cards are stacked at this moment in time in our favor. The bills are on the table. Most have already been vetted and are already moving in the right direction through the process.

It’s an election year. Yes, I know I said that already, but want to drive the point home. Let’s do this.

Get on the email list of local advocacy organizations. Submit testimony in support of their priority bills. Info is here:

Together we can.


Gary Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council. He presently writes on Hawai‘i Policy and Politics at
Source: The Garden Island

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