Danny de Gracia: Hawaii is the state to watch in 2013

A new year and an era of reset begins.

HONOLULU, December 31, 2012 – The Fiftieth State has undergone a stunning transformation of leadership in the last few months. Its congressional delegation is now largely new faces: U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz replace Daniel Akaka and the late Daniel Inouye; freshman representative Tulsi Gabbard joins Colleen Hanabusa in the House.

In the local state legislature, Hawaii has shuffled in a new speaker and vice-speaker of the House of Representatives and a new president of its senate. Some of the most promising and idealistic personalities Hawaii has seen yet will be joining the new legislature, including among others the former 2011 Miss Hawaii, Lauren K. Cheape.

An era of “reset” has dawned for the Aloha State. Though challenges and opportunities abound for 2013, the new structure of government and the abundance of fresh minds to gather at the table of policymaking inspire high expectations and make Hawaii the state to watch in the new year.

In Hawaii, the locals have a saying: “He lawai’a no ke kai papa’u, he pokole ke aho; he lawai’a no ke kai hohonu he loa ke aho” – a fisherman of the shallow sea uses only a short line but a fisherman of the deep has a long line. With new leaders, now is the time not for short-term, quick fixes but for strategic reforms.

Amidst the panic of the pending fiscal cliff and what will happen next (or fail to happen) in Washington D.C., small states like Hawaii will need to take initiative and lead the nation by example in finding deep, lasting solutions beyond just the usual presenting problems. Restoring the economy is truly within our reach, but a more admirable goal would be to restore our future.

President Barack Obama who himself grew up in Hawaii once remarked, “A government that truly represents these Americans – that truly serves these Americans – will require a different kind of politics. That politics will need to reflect on our lives as they are actually lived. It won’t be prepackaged, ready to pull off the shelf. It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past … we will need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break.”

If a state as small as Hawaii can make great reforms in 2013, we should have every reason to believe that the nation can soon follow thereafter. Isn’t that a new year’s resolution worth keeping?

God bless all of you and have a very Happy New Year.


Danny de Gracia is a political scientist who lives in Hawaii. Find out more about Danny and follow his official blog!

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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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