Wednesday, October 20, 2010
by Larry Geller
In the (in-?)famous Rice case, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the practice of allowing only native Hawaiians to vote in OHA elections. Regardless of how you feel about that, the court has spoken, and so OHA candidates are on your ballot this year.
This is a double-dilemma for those of us who are not Native Hawaiians.
First, whether to vote at all… just because the Supremes said I could vote doesn’t mean that I think its morally or ethically fair that I do so. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs isn’t for my benefit. Regardless of anyone’s feelings or opinions about the organization, I don’t think I, as a non-Native Hawaiian, should vote for its representatives.
The next question is: who to vote for? It’s even worse than the Board of Education slate in terms of public information.
Here’s what I did last time and what I did today: I asked someone. I got some suggestions from a person who should and will vote, a Native Hawaiian whom I trust. She gave me some detail, actually, and I will vote according to her suggestion.
That way I feel better about the question of voting.
Hey—you may not agree, but this works for me, and I’d like to pass on the idea.
I recall speaking to someone about this last election cycle and was told that he had a problem—he didn’t know anyone who identified as Native Hawaiian. Nothing I can do about that, but I suggested that he make an effort and find someone. That’s a whole other conversation and a sad commentary on modern life in Hawaii. I am very aware that on the various boards and groups I participate in, most often there is no Native Hawaiian present in the room. Like I said, that’s another conversation.
Meanwhile, ask someone if you feel as I do and then cast a meaningful vote.