Dan Boylan, the recently retired professor and longtime political pundit, went on the record with Columbia Journalism Review last week with a few observations about this election season and the way it’s being covered. Along with some refreshing reminders–that despite media obsession over it during this cycle, Hawaii politics are notably less negative than those in many other states–Boylan offered that “We’re talking too much about civil unions and not enough about education. We have educational challenges out here that are very, very real.”
True, of course. But I’d argue that those two issues have dominated coverage of local politics over the past year, and, more to the point, that questions of human and civil rights are worth talking about until you’re blue in the face. Which, obviously, the Weekly has done. The paper’s current editorial policy is not to endorse candidates, but it’s fair to say that we were pleased to see that two Democratic campaigns in which support for civil unions was the principle policy issue at stake–the gubernatorial primary and the 33rd State House District race–were each won by the pro-gay rights candidate. Should Neil Abercrombie prevail in his race against Duke Aiona, one imagines that Hawaii will quickly and finally make progress on this critical question of fairness and justice.
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Speaking of Boylan, there was quite a bit of reporting and analysis over the weekend that implied or stated outright that Saturday’s results were a referendum on rail. Given Panos “I’m not a politician I just run a lot” Prevedouros’ crushing defeat in the mayor’s race, one wonders where this kind of thing keeps coming from. We’ve had to avoid rail coverage around here recently because of the appearance of a conflict of interest on my part–my father is a consultant on the project–but I will say this much: I am continually astonished at the ability of analysts to see a public consensus against rail for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Indeed, all of the available evidence–from the 2008 referendum through recent polling through Saturday’s election–points in the opposite direction. Virtually every politician up for major office on Saturday was a rail supporter–the only one who wasn’t got hammered. So why do so many analysts seem convinced that there’s a silent majority against rail? It’s an open question.
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Kudos to Larry Geller for reminding us that Hawaii still does not offer a secret ballot. The details are at Geller’s Disappeared News site, [disappearednews.com]. The Weekly and many other outlets have reported on this over the years, and yet the state has still not stopped recording the serial number of both the voter’s ballot and stub in connection with the voter’s name. The principle of the secret ballot is at the very heart of the democratic process. The Office of Elections needs to find a solution.