Probably the most touching--certainly the most dramatic--moment at the 2012 State Democratic Party Convention occurred when U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka took the stage with his extended family in what was to be his final bow for the gathering. I assure you that there was not a dry eye in that vast room. If there ever was a man who defined the term "A Quiet Leader," Hawai'i's first native U.S. senator filled the billing.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that all U.S. senators are flamboyant. Daniel Kahikina Akaka is anything but flamboyant. Does that mean he was ineffective? Far from it. Sen. Akaka perfectly represented Hawai'i's best interests as a quiet, overly capable voice of the people--not the corporate powers.
As Sen. Akaka retires, we here in Maui Nui have a unique opportunity not only to honor him, but at the same time to replenish party resources in this difficult election year.
Yes, I know there seems to be fundraising events almost every day. And, yes, too, the programs and beneficiaries all are important.
This dinner, though, on Wednesday, Aug. 29, is different. Historically, our party embraces what we term a huge "tent:" labor brothers and sisters, progressive businesses and social programs, environmentalists, the young, the geezers (like me), kanaka maoli, kama'aina, kana'ka'e, LGBT, artists, teachers--on and on the tent billows.
One aspect overflows. We honor our elders, our kumu, our kupuna--our Daniel Kahikina Akaka and his 'ohana--because his 'ohana is our 'ohana.
So, do not mark down Aug. 29 as "just another event." It isn't. Sen. Akaka knows why.
We're at a major tipping point in the state's and the Hawai'i Democratic Party's history. We have no choice but to forge ahead.
Forgive my cultural upbringing, but "Why is this election different from all other elections?" In this election year, we either select leaders able to lead this nation--and state--out of the economic doldrums, or, we revert back to the disastrous divisive and failed steps that created the Great Recession and will further widen the chasm between the 1 percenters who get richer and more powerful while we 99 percenters drop farther and farther behind.
Electing a Linda Lingle to replace Sen. Akaka and/or electing a Mitt Romney and his Tea Party buddies will be a tragedy. And that, bluntly, is not what Sen. Akaka wants as his legacy.
The fundraiser will be held at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort in South Maui with a luau dinner and show beginning at 6 p.m. You'll be able to talk story with the senator and enjoy the special presentations for him. Tickets are $100 with table sponsorships available.
I view this event as a kuleana. I hope you do, too.
For more information and to make reservations, please call 264-2964.