Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do You Back Candidates Because They're The Same Color Or Religion As You Are?


If you read DWT much, you know how much we distrust identity politics around here. Voting for someone because they are the same religion or ethnicity of gender, etc seems kind of primitive and politically immature. I always thought it should be about character and policy. I was very happy last week when People for the American Way endorsed Stanley Chang for the Honolulu-based congressional seat that Hanabusa gave up and I had been very happy a couple months before that to see the Congressional Progressive Caucus endorse him. Stanley is, hands down, the most progressive of the 7 Democratic candidates in the race. Stanley is a Chinese-American. I don't recall anyone being of Chinese ancestry on the PFAW Board and I'm willing to bet that he wasn't endorsed by the CPC because of his ethnicity either. In both cases, it was all about his progressive policy positions and the progressive work he's done on the Honolulu City Council. So I was gob-smacked this week when I was told that two Japanese-American progressives I think highly of, Mark Takano and Mike Honda, bucked the CPC and endorsed one of Chang's conservative opponents, Mark Takai.

I bet Takano, who is very serious about his gay identity as well as his Japanese-American identity would be mortified if he knew Takai's anti-gay voting record that conveniently changed just when he announced he would be running for Congress. Takai voted no on civil unions in 2010 and 2011.

And I wonder if Mike Honda, one of Congress' preeminent supporters of the down-and-out, knows that Takai was the lead sponsor of a bill to drug-test recipients of public assistance benefits last year. And he's been a cheerleader for Donna Kim's endless tirades against public employees and institutions.

I suspect neither Takano nor Honda bothered to read the 2012 Hawaii Family Forum survey, in which Takai is clear he backed a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and backs the conservative position that gives religious organizations the right to refuse outside groups from using their facilities for activities related even to civil unions.

On one issue he's even more conservative than the religious-right candidate in the primary, Donna Mercado Kim. She was undecided on voting to include a conscience exemption in laws requiring all Hawaii hospitals to provide abortifacient medication to sex assault victims, but Takai said yes. It's hard to imagine either Takano or Honda backing someone with this kind of a record-- and not from ancient history wither, from the last election cycle!

Takai also happens to be a big nuclear power booster and introduced bills in both 2009 and 2011 that would “direct the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to develop a permitting process for nuclear energy generation facilities in Hawaii.” Just five days after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that caused level 7 nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, he commented, “I still think it’s prudent for us to take a look at whether nuclear energy is a viable option.”

Takai is far more hawkish than either Takano or Honda and openly advocates spending more money on the military. And he is every bit as friendly with the right wing as Donna Kim is. Hawaii has a fringe Koch-affiliated think tank called the Grassroot Institute. It espouses libertarian economics, but is mostly known for its open hostility to Hawaiian sovereignty. When the Grassroot Institute named a new CEO last year, Takai was the only elected official quoted in the press release. Just a few months ago, he sat down for a nearly hour-long videotaped lovefest (and snoozefest) with the CEO, in which they talked about their shared commitment to Christian faith and beliefs that the public-school system should be "run like a business" and "school choice should be de-politicized." On gridlock in Congress, Takai offered this: "You have people on the left who are really dug in..."

So much for being the "progressive" alternative to Kim (which is an idea he and his backers are pushing hard to people who don't know much about history). Blue America endorsed Stanley Chang-- and as far as I know neither John Amato, Digby, Jacquie or myself is Chinese-American, just progressive-American-- and we're helping him raise money for his get out the vote operation for the August 9th primary. Below is a new ad that shows Stanley talking about... well the same issues Takano and Honda talk about all the time.

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At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a debate tonight at 11 p.m. PDT streaming live at

At 4:15 PM, Blogger islomane said...

What an eye opener! I was down with Stanley as the only viable and truly progressive candidate in the HI01 race (I voted for him a couple of days ago), but now I am so grateful I had made that choice on my ballot. Takai's been "frequenting" gay venues lately in the political charade he's launched, trying to garner the imprimatur of the progressive GLBTI community. What a sham!


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