Behind the stage set of fragrant flowers, balmy trade winds and turquoise lagoons, there is another Hawaii: a world of bare-knuckle, one-party politics where the Democrats dominate and one formidable man, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, reigns supreme….
In large measure, political, civic and business leaders chose guarded silence, which some of them attribute to fear that the party machine, which controls nearly all state and Federal positions and programs here, might derail their careers or strip their projects of government money….
The silence is part "cowardice" and part "lack of opportunity," asserts Neal Milner, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii. "Without a Republican Party to speak of and without newspapers interested in investigative reporting," Mr. Milner said, a stir that would be "taken for granted" elsewhere was unlikely to occur in the Aloha State. In a one-party government, he went on, "everything depends on behaving yourself," so people who want to keep their patronage jobs or their program financing learn to hold their tongues….
…the lawmaker said she was too fearful of political consequences to comment publicly, a path taken by only two members of the State Legislature: Representatives Annelle Amaral, a Democrat, who has been labeled disloyal by many fellow party members and has suddenly been defeated for leadership positions she was expected to win, and Cynthia Thielen, a Republican, who has little to lose….
Ms. Amaral's advisers say she has committed political suicide.
Outside of politics, as well, there are stirrings of fear here. One local social service agency, for instance, sent a memorandum to its employees warning that "statements regarding Inouye's guilt or innocence may severely hurt us at this time politically."
…when power is held in so few hands, political experts here say, it can be wielded by implication, not decree. "Part of the political culture here is the idea that there are sanctions that can be used against you," Mr. Milner said.
Ian Y. Lind, editor of The Hawaii Monitor, a political newsletter, traces the culture of implied intimidation to the plantation system, which was overturned by Mr. Inouye and other Japanese-American veterans who returned from World War II, entered law and politics and replaced the old oligarchy with a new oligarchy of one-party rule.
"There is some reality, and considerable perception, that the blacklist the plantations used is now used by the people who control state government," Mr. Lind said….
"Retribution to his perceived enemies -- the Senator is not that kind of person," Mr. Garcia added. "That's just a perception you and others have picked up. It's not reality as we see it."
But that perception hangs heavy over Ms. Amaral these days. "That this many people are fearful," she said, brushing tears from her broad cheeks. "That this few people have control. Is this the Hawaii I know? Is this the Hawaii I want to represent? The lesson for everybody is you don't want your town to turn into this."