Campaign Corner: Phony Outrage In The Governor’s Race

Faux outrage has come into vogue recently. But it really is a disservice to voters.

A few women legislators and community leaders have chosen to complain publicly that Gov. David Ige is dismissive of women because one of his campaign ads said that “criticism isn’t leadership.” That statement is a perfectly reasonable response to the rehashing of his tardy response to the false missile alert that seems to be his opponent’s chief argument for why she should be CEO of the state. We are among the many who think the charge of sexism leveled against Gov. Ige is patent nonsense.

The real issue is who has worked hard to address the challenges facing us — and who has simply opined on these problems from afar. It takes a little work to get beyond the silliness of campaign attacks.

We should be asking ourselves who is more aligned with what the community wants and needs. Who is more likely to address Hawaii’s renewable goals: the candidate who has served on the board of the gas company or a sitting governor who has steadfastly rejected the fake argument that liquefied natural gas is a “bridge fuel?”   

The mothers in the communities where LNG is fracked must wonder why Hawaii’s culture of aloha does not include caring about those who live in areas destroyed by the fracking process. The so-called “bridge fuel” that Colleen Hanabusa enthusiastically supports, is, in the words of environmental advocates, “a bridge to nowhere.” If we are getting somewhere with regard to realizing our goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 it is because Gov. Ige is taking smart steps like having over 4,000 solar modules, 21,000 solar panels and nearly 100,000 high efficiency light fixtures installed at the Daniel K. Inouye airport.

The mothers (and fathers) across the islands who have had to deal with the open spraying of restricted use pesticides next to their children’s schools and playgrounds are grateful for Gov. Ige’s leadership in signing into law Senate Bill 3095, creating Act 45, which bans chlorpyrifos and puts into place corporate reporting requirements.

Act 45 will allow informed decision-making by families and policing by state regulatory agencies. It allows mothers and fathers to take steps to protect their children from brain-harming chemicals. Act 45 gives pregnant women a better shot at protecting themselves and their unborn children from the serious health impacts of highly toxic chemicals. Corporations are now required to provide transparency, something they were unwilling to offer voluntarily.

Another simple example of good government is the continuing effort to cool our public schools. Students and teachers in sweltering classrooms are grateful for the governor’s efforts in this area.

During this time of unprecedented empowerment for women through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it is disheartening to witness the gender card played in a way that hurts us all. That is what happened when prominent female lawmakers and community leaders accused Gov. David Ige of a “double standard” and sexism. Their accusation undermines women who ask for nothing more or less than fair assessments of our words and deeds. 

When victims of sexual harassment filed complaints to make the Capitol a safer place for everyone, the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus was content to merely issue a vague, toothless statement. 

We support strong women speaking up. But we don’t support the cynical wielding of feminism as a club. Sen. Laura Thielen has observed that some of our women leaders are “speaking out now in what appears to be purely a political agenda, given how they would not speak or act when it would have made a real difference for women and girls in our state.” Like Sen. Thielen, we are bitterly disappointed.

Faux feminist outrage does nothing to improve the lives of women. Community-based policymaking does.