The theme for my fundraiser tomorrow is honoring the 1954 Democratic Revolution. The following is my speech for my fundraiser:
Fifty years ago this fall, a number of young Democrats swept the Republican-controlled Territorial Legislature in what has become known as the historic Democratic Revolution of 1954. Arguably, this was a turning point in modern Hawaii history.
If we were to travel back in time to the middle of the twentieth century, many of us would be shocked. Imagine a time of overt racism, abuse of laborers, and forced political pressure.
Minorities were not hired because of their race. There were organizations such as the Pacific Club that did not allow minorities to be members. The “Big Five companies” and the Republicans controlled the workers. The GOP provided a tax system favorable to plantation interests, restricted appropriations for social services and public education, and provided various government tasks for the economic elite. The territory of Hawaii only required itself to provide free education through the eighth grade. This made it hard for workers to further their children's education while the elite routinely sent their children to high school and college. When it came time for voting, plantation surpervisors would wait outside of the polling booths and watch the string that suspended the voter's pencil over the Republican side of the ballot. If the supervisor saw the string shift towards the Democratic side of the ballot, the worker might find himself blacklisted for voting the wrong way.
About ten years before the revolution, a “coffee drinking group” of political dreamers met regularly in hopes of changing Hawaii. The leaders were former police captain John Burns, nisei dentist Ernest Murai, former teacher Mitsuyuki Kido, ILWU leader Jack Kawano, and attorney and member of the Honolulu Board of Supervisors Chuck Mau. Kido recalled, “What triggered me into politics was the fact that youngsters that we enrolled into the 442nd Combat Team…wrote letters from their hospital beds in Italy and said, 'We're willing to sacrifice our lives and everything – are we coming back to a second-class society?” It touches me to know that many 442 soldiers fought in hopes of bettering the lives of future generations such as mine.
With the leadership of John Burns and the unity of the World War II veterans and labor workers, the 1954 Democratic Revolution was inevitable. Honor and discipline is what drove them. The practice of not shaming your family and oneself was common.
The leaders of the 1954 Democratic Revolution inspired me to enter politics. I apply their teachings to my time period. We are now living in a world where blaming others is common. Government must provide the tools, but we must all do our part. We need to teach our children to behave well and be willing to learn. After all, the World War II generation made the most of what little they had, and prospered. We can prosper again.
My goal is to emphasize honor and discipline in our society. Our history and struggles must be taught to our children. I hope to implement a code of honor at our schools to improve the behavior of our children, which will in turn help create better citizens.
Further, I will do all I can to diversify our economy in the knowledge-based industries such as technology, biotechnology, sciences, film, and alternative energy. We must use our brains to create intellectual and tangible property to be sold in the global economy. Ideas will create jobs.
Areas that I will continue to work on are issues regarding women and children, especially domestic abuse and sexual assault.
This is an exciting time for Hawaii. Together we can affect change to better our wonderful island home. I thank you for your support, and I look forward to working with you. Mahalo!