by Andrew Walden
Even in the midst of an election sweep, Hawaii Democrats and their media monopoly are doing everything they can to shape the Republican opposition into a nullity. Their message: Hawaii is different so Republicanism just won’t win elections here. The reality is that even in defeat, Republicans have laid an organizational foundation for future victories. The Democrats are working to convince Republicans to dig that foundation up.
Here are some examples:
CB: Abercrombie's Crowning Victory
"We have a message, not just a message from this campaign, but a message maybe that we can take to the mainland," said Abercrombie in his victory speech, delivered at his election night headquarters at the former CompUSA site near downtown Honolulu. "Well, what do you see tonight? You see division, you see rancor, you see people at odds with one another. You see confrontation and conflict all over the mainland. But what you see in Hawaii tonight is unity of purpose and unity of people because our diversity defines us and does not divide us."
Abercrombie continued: "We are united. We are the rainbow people, the aloha state, we reach out together to pono, to do the right thing."
KITV VIDEO: Abercrombie, Aiona, Hanabusa, Djou Election Eve speeches
SA: Hanabusa tops Djou for House seat
Hanabusa's victory was validation for Inouye, who assured national Democrats last spring that the party would regain the district in November.
"At that time I was certain that Hanabusa would win," Inouye said. "Most people don't understand the people of Hawaii. In a way we are a bit different. It's not easy to tell someone from Chicago or from Baltimore or from New York what Makaweli is like or Eleele. But I've been around for a while, and I felt Hanabusa would win."
CB: Hanabusa Takes Back Hawaii's First Congressional District for Democrats
"Our campaign, after the special election, was 100 percent local. And the message was local," Hanabusa said in a victory speech at her Ward Avenue headquarters Tuesday night after the second printout. "The message was Hawaii is a special place and it's you that defines Hawaii. And this election is about how we defined ourselves and how we defined the Hawaii that we want in the future."
Every word of this is aimed directly at Hawaii Republicans in an effort to demoralize them and convince them that they must become more like Democrats. Hawaii Republicans have never achieved anything by becoming imitation Democrats. Leave it to Ed Case to let a little truth slip in:
Case, however, argued that Hawaii is really not that unlike the mainland, but that voters in Hawaii forget that the rest of the country is also filled with GOP and Democratic strongholds.
"There are mainland districts that look like us, there are mainland districts just like us, after 190 Democratic incumbents won tonight," Case said.
Hawaii Democrats are just another “organized” community, like those in Chicago, Detroit, and West Virginia. Republicans can win by organizing the unorganized majority plus any elements of the Democratic coalition marginalized by the Democrats’ incessant infighting.
In spite of its heavy losses, the GOP took a step in this direction in the 2010 campaign. Party organization is stronger than it has been in years. The Hawaii GOP fielded candidates in almost every legislative race and stopped the decline in GOP Legislative representation. Clearly Republicans will have to register, organize, and recruit much more to succeed. The sign of this success will be a coincidence of Republican victories with increases in voter registration and voter turnout.
Nothing this valuable can come easily. The Democrats worked through four election cycles from 1948 until winning in 1954, did not capture the Governorship until 1962, and did not dispatch the Republicans conclusively until 1968. In the next cycle, 1970, the current factional structure of the one-party Democrats began to emerge in the form of Tom Gill’s gubernatorial challenge to Jack Burns.
There are plenty of Democrats today writing that Republicans must become more like Democrats. David Shapiro writes:
While it was a night of tough losses for the Republicans, at least they put up a fight in most races after the debacle of 2008 when they failed to contest 40 percent of the legislative seats.
And they deserve credit for showing the courage of their convictions by running on their Republican values instead of fudging party philosophy, as successful Hawai‘i GOP candidates have often done in the past to compete in a Democratic state.
…now Republicans have to face the reality that after hearing them loud and clear, the great majority of Hawai‘i voters simply don’t share their economic beliefs and are not comfortable mixing religion and politics on social issues.
We’d benefit from a vibrant two-party system, but at this point in our history, Republicanism is not a brand that sells in Hawai‘i and the party is going to need some new ideas to return to relevance here.
This is sucker bait. After acknowledging the Republican campaign progress, apparently Shapiro hopes GOPers will go back to the bad old days of UN-successful Republican candidates who ran as Democrat-lite and lost.
About the Democratic election gains, Governor Lingle told the Star-Advertiser, “This will be going backwards." For the state, this is true. It is up to Republicans to show it is not true for the Party as well.