Honolulu’s Ben Cayetano leads the way for reform and sets a bold example for America

Breaking the stranglehold of special interests and big money is key to freeing America, and in Hawaii, former governor and candidate for Honolulu mayor Ben Cayetano is leading the charge for freedom. Photo: Facebook

HAWAII, July 12, 2012 – Former Hawaii governor and candidate for Honolulu Mayor Ben Cayetano is a man America should watch.  In a local televised debate last night, Cayetano made a powerful statement that spoke volumes about the condition not only of his city, but of the entire policymaking process in which power and money in America is divided between haves and have nots.

“[The] real issue is about political power,” he said. “Big labor and big business have been running this town for a long time … they have taken political power which rightly belongs to the people. This can be a transformational issue in Hawaii politics. Let’s take the government back and the power back to who it belongs, the people.”

While local and national candidates for office routinely say as a matter of practice that special interests have taken over, Cayetano’s efforts to stop a $5.3 billion dollar municipal rail project has been met with a ferocious blowback of deep-pocketed advocacy groups and an Orwellian mobilization of an army taxpayer financed PR consultants. Despite the fact that the majority of Oahu residents are now against the pricey rail project, their local elected officials insist the project will not be stopped, with even the incumbent mayor going so far as to say it will take “World War III to stop it now.”

The battle against rail in Honolulu chillingly mirrors so many other policy battles being waged all across America at all levels of government.  The names and mandates are different but the battles are fundamentally the same.

From sea to shining sea, taxpayers are engaged in uphill battles to protect their wallets, their freedom of choice and even their civil liberties against an ever-widening array of government mandates, many of which are intimately tied to public-private parternships that unilaterally favor a select few corporations and privileged elite.

America has become a nation of have and have nots in which kleptocracy and incompetence work hand in hand to perpetuate politicians that never seem to have the intestinal fortitude to support more than marginal change, if any.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties are filled with partisans who want the very best for their country and their families, yet so frequently the candidates that survive kangaroo primaries to get elected in both parties seem to be bipartisanly adept in betraying their sincere base of constituents.

Most Americans do not have the privilege of making their income through favorable connections, large fundraising networks, preferential interest rates guaranteed by the government or subsidized corporations. Most Americans do not have national forums for their message or the ability to pay millions of dollars to individuals to shill on their behalf.

Most Americans do not profit from market volatility, offshore speculation, exotic financial devices and the sorcery of literally creating money out of thin air. This leaves the average taxpayer reactive, vulnerable and at the mercy of whoever comes into office – and more to the point, whoever controls those in office.

Who speaks for them?

The United States of America was founded by men and women who resisted the notion of elitism and citizenship for the sake of government rather than government for the sake of citizenship. Our fifty states need a paradigm shift towards leaders with both resilient humility and moral courage to restore our nation to a land of the people, by the people, for the people.

To see a former governor of a state fighting so valiantly for a lower municipal office on the premise of returning power to the people hearkens to the American spirit of putting communities first and is truly inspiring. America should watch Honolulu’s Ben Cayetano and seek to elect leaders just like him all across our land. 

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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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