NOV. 3, 2018


Role of Lieutenant Governor Must Change

When former Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui abruptly and surprisingly quit in an election year, it signaled that something was amiss between himself and Gov. David Ige. Shortly after when he endorsed gubernatorial challenger Colleen Hanabusa and led her Maui campaign, it was confirmed that the Tsutsui-Ige working relation was a bust. But political insiders already knew of Tsutsui’s discontent before the rift became public that largely stemmed from his limitation of duties.

The rocky relationship between Tsutsui and Ige is not new to Hawaii politics between a governor and lieutenant governor. Remember former Lt. Gov. Jean Sadako King, Hawaii’s first woman lieutenant governor. She served under former Gov. George Ariyoshi for one term then broke ranks and attempted to unseat him when Ariyoshi ran for a second term.

Former Lt. Governor, now Senator Mazie Hirono, was also known to have had rocky episodes with former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

The historical rifts between governors and lieutenant governors of the state could be differences in personality, goals, leadership styles. But, more than likely, rifts stem from the nature of the office of the lieutenant governor itself -- it is the governor who really determines how much and what the lieutenant governor can and cannot do.

While the lieutenant governor is an elected officer, it is the governor who runs the show, which is why how effective a lieutenant governor is – really depends on the tandem’s working and personal relationship. This relationship, is perhaps, the single-most indicator of how effective a lieutenant governor would be.

Stepping Stone

Traditionally, the office of the lieutenant governor is known as a stepping stone to higher public office. Former governors Ariyoshi, John Waihee III, and Cayetano all served as lieutenant governor. Hirono and Sen. Brian Schatz also are former lieutenant governors. Former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona unsuccessfully attempted to follow this stepping stone modus after former Gov. Linda LIngle’s term limit expired. More recently, former state Atty. General Doug Chin, likely saw the lieutenant governor’s office as adding to his resume prior to his unsuccessful run at the U.S. House.

Have more responsibilities or be part-time

It’s reasonable that taxpayers deserve more from the office of lieutenant governor than some political stepping stone where the politically ambitious beef up their resume.

In a few states, the office of lieutenant governor is not a full-time position because of its limited governing capacity.

In Hawaii, where this office is a full-time position with a large staff and office, there ought to be more specific duties and more work done by the holder of this office, not some window dressing politician preparing for bigger and greater things.

In some states, the lieutenant governor has expanded duties such as being the speaker or presiding officer of the upper house of the state legislature similar to the way the vice president serves in the U.S. Congress. In states where this occurs, the lieutenant governor has more impact on legislative matters; and as such, becomes much more valuable to the governor, taking on additional duties.

Under the current system in Hawaii, it’s fair that taxpayers could demand that this position be part time. Or the alternative is to expand the office’s duties with specific tasks and not simply be a shadow of the governor who often purposely limit the lieutenant governor’s duties in order to usurp all the credit of things gone right or often sees the lieutenant governor as a potential political rival.

Having a full-time office and large staff just to be on the wings to replace the governor should he or she be incapacitated or passes on is simply not efficient, cost-effective governance. In such a limited role, implementing a mechanism that a special election be held should a governor needs to be replaced is a smarter alternative; and a part-time office holder be in place with limited duties when the governor is off the islands.

In other words, either we demand much more or much less from the office of lieutenant governor.

In this election, both of the major lieutenant governor candidates democrat Josh Green and republican Marissa Dipasupil Kerns have expressed their plans to take on greater responsibilities for the office. Voters have heard this before from every candidate running for this office.

At this point, it’s really a wait-and-see situation that’s ultimately in the hands of the governor-elect.


We Have Bigger Concerns Than A Caravan: Healthcare, Medicare and Right-Wing Terrorism

Predictable and timed for the midterm election, President Donald Trump once again is weaponizing a fear of immigrants to get his people to turn out to the polls.

This time, his off-the-mark warped version of reality, involves a caravan of Central American migrants making their way north through Mexico toward the U.S. border.

Trump tweeted, “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergency. Must change laws!”

Later he told reporters, “you’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern. You’re going to find everything. And guess what? We’re not allowing them in our country. We want safety.”

Caravan will not be able to enter Country

Clearly, a vast majority of Americans understand that this caravan will not be able to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and will probably disperse before even reaching it (remember what happened to the caravan earlier this year which was also deemed a false threat). This latest caravan is thousands of miles away and the migrants are traveling on foot.

But the fear mongering president is using this opportunity to do what has worked for him in 2016 – lie about migrants and immigrants, repeat those lies over and over, and soon enough ignorant xenophobic Americans who live in mostly homogenous communities where very few immigrants live, begin to believe those “frightening” Trump lies.

First off, there is no credible evidence of Middle-Easterners as part of the caravan. Customs and Border Protection data show Middle-Easterners trying to cross the border illegally from Mexico is very rare. Of more than 300,000 people apprehended last year trying to cross the southern border illegally, fewer than 100 came from countries in the Middle East.

Second, the migrants are most likely not criminals or MS-13 gang members, but rather they’re fleeing from criminals in their hometowns. But no matter, facts get lost, the politics of fear is very convincing, and the caravan just fits in with Trump’s xenophobic theme from the very start of his political career: that migrants and illegal immigration in general pose a threat to the nation’s security.

What Americans should really be fearing

While Trump would like to make this midterm election about caravans and illegal immigrants (facts show illegal immigration is way down since the Obama administration), if there are things to fear Americans should be worried about matters that could really impact them.

Some 23 million Americans (mostly affecting the bottom 40 percent income-earners in the country) who are signed up with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, could lose their insurance should Democrats lose the House.

Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to repeal the ACA but came very close. They’ve already stated their intentions to try again should they maintain control over Congress.

The CDC reported that since Obamacare, the percentage of people without health insurance dropped by almost half, from 16 percent to 8.9 percent. It’s estimated that repealing the ACA would reverse this gain.

Other social safety nets could also be in jeopardy in whole or parts such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

On national security, homegrown terrorism is on the rise, not terrorism from foreign infiltrators. White supremacist groups (most of them who support Trump) pose a far greater threat to the country than the much-feared migrant caravans.

The latest act of terror by the right-wing targeted the Clintons, the Obamas, CNN, Rep. Maxine Waters, and other high profile Democrats (all of whom have been ardent Trump critics). Authorities intercepted suspicious devices intended for these prominent Trump-critics. If that wasn’t chilling enough, right-wing terror continued with the gun attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead. It was the worst attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

Having our nation’s media, former presidents, and other politicians who criticize Trump be terrorized, and anti-Semitic terror by a white supremacist (who targeted the group because of a fear of the migrant caravan) – now these are real matters to fear, mob-rule; never mind a caravan thousands of miles away who have little chance of crossing into the U.S.

Politics of Fear

Americans are being played by a master marketer of messaging. Trump has built an empire on messaging, branding, and shoveling off lies to his benefit. He was successful in 2016. But no one really knows how effective this tactic has been holding up until after the midterm election. Polls since 2016 have been fluid. The real test comes this November 6 when we will know if Americans are truly buying into his lies, misinformation, and fear-pimping.

Arguably, the Democrats’ high-road strategy of not wresting in the mud could be costly. They’ve allowed Trump and the GOP to mischaracterize the Democratic party in so many untruthful ways – as being supporters of open borders, supporters of Venezuelan-style socialism, supporters of lawlessness, etc.

Democrats’ passivity in clarifying these and other lies perpetuated by Trump is a calculated risk because it presumes too much, that a vast majority of Americans know better. But do they, really? And since when has being “nice” in politics been a winning formula? – especially when pressed up against the wall by the master of masters in propaganda, Trump.

If you happen to be an American experiencing fear over some caravan of migrants and not worried about things that really matter like the cost of health insurance or making sure that social security will be there for when you retire – you got to be asking yourself: “am I getting played?”

Back to top↑

© 2008-2018 Hawaii Filipino Chronicle Inc.