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Is It The Politics of Blame or Track Record?

posted in: Weekly Commentary | 0
By Lowell L. Kalapa

     One of the phrases that the public is beginning to hear as the political campaign begins to heat up is that the challengers are playing the game called the politics of blameby dredging up the mistakes that have been made over the years by those who held elected office.  

 

  If voters are not allowed to assess what their elected officials have done, then how are voters to know whether or not those who were elected to office have done a good job?        Incumbents seem to infer that the politics of blame is unfair and is negative campaigning. Leveling criticism at mistakes and errors hardly seems to be negative campaigning when one views that programs and projects instituted by incumbents as representative of what those elected officials thought was best for the community. Whether it be buying koa benches or building stadiums where one can’t see home plate, those who made those decisions must be held accountable for their actions.

If voters are not allowed to assess what their elected officials have done, then how are voters to know whether or not those who were elected to office have done a good job? Similarly, those who are the challengers must be queried about their promises to do better if voters are expected to make an informed decision at the ballot box.

But to deride the act of reminding the voters of what incumbents did while they were in office is merely an attempt to sweep their mistakes under the rug. They hope voters will forget how they grew the size of government over the past decade. They want voters to forget how non-bid contracts mushroomed from a few thousand dollars to literally millions of dollars within a few short months.

 
  And is it really the politics of blame when one recalls which elected official wanted to raise the general excise tax?
 
It is those same elected officials that initiated programs left and right to satisfy this or that constituency, but then didn’t have the political will to reduce or eliminate those programs as funds began to run out. It is those same elected officials who bitterly decry the politics of blame that turned to raising fees as alternative to raising taxes because they didn’t want to raise taxes.

And is it really the politics of blame when one recalls which elected official wanted to raise the general excise tax? Raise the general excise tax not just once but many times over and over again. Is it the politics of blame to recall that state officials suggested that the City & County of Honolulu raise the general excise tax while they were sitting on a cash surplus of over half a billion dollars?

And could it be that these same elected officials proposed raising the general excise tax for one year in order to satisfy the claims of the Hawaiian Homes Commission? And could it be those same officials who wanted to raise the general excise tax so that they could give residents a “cut” in their net income taxes during what just happened to be an election year?

 
 

How ironic it is that incumbents don’t want to stand on their records, but instead call it thepolitics of blame

 
How ironic it is that incumbents don’t want to stand on their records, but instead call it thepolitics of blame when challengers drag out those records for all to see. If incumbents can’t stand on their records, or are embarrassed to be reminded of what they did in office, then it seems only proper that they should bow out and let someone else take over the helm of the ship of state. If incumbents have done well by their constituents and have heeded the wants and needs of their community, then no amount of “dredging” up their track record should be repugnant.

More importantly, voters should take the time to examine the records of the incumbents as well as scrutinizing carefully the promises of the challengers. If raising the general excise tax is a crucial issue to voters then perhaps each candidate should be asked: If elected, do you promise to raise the general excise tax rate? After all, it seems that many incumbents have tried to deliver on that promise.

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