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Rising Expectations

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Maui Vision Magazine.

Sanity is madness put to good use. – George Santayana

Five years ago, Alan Clements wrote an inspiring book – A Future to Believe In. This book title is also the motto of the Sanders campaign. The book’s subtitle is, A Guide to Empowerment, Revolution and the Universal Right To Be Free.

We seem to be in a hall of mirrors at the funhouse, where all of our quirks are blown up to look weird. At times it’s funny, but right now it’s weird and scary; and it’s time to find an exit to get fresh air.

It’s almost the end of May, and the quadrennial rat race has narrowed to a neofascist, sociopathic narcissist and a bland, neoliberal superhawk who are – gasp – tied in polls in key battleground states. Clinton has so much baggage – the emails, the server, the distrust and dislike – that people are thinking about Canada again. Brrrr.

Trump skunked the Republican Party establishment; and Clinton, who has had the entire corporate political and media machine promoting her, still hasn’t been able to seal the deal. As Amy Goodman said, the major networks are bringing you “a small circle of pundits who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and getting it so wrong.”

But wait, put down the razor blades. We don’t have to choose ‘the lesser of two evils,’ or what Gov. Jerry Brown calls ‘the evil of two lessers’ – those distasteful nominees whom a majority of the public believes lack integrity and honesty.

No, we have Bernie!

Bernie has attracted massive crowds all over the country because he is seen as an honest, trustworthy, straight-talking man of great moral courage and integrity. He speaks to the 99 percent who know that the game is rigged and that the elites are a club; and as George Carlin reminded us, “you ain’t in it.”

While Hillary is barely even with Trump in the polls, Bernie consistently beats him by double digits – 11 to 15 percent.

At the time of this writing, the narrow path to the nomination and presidency is there if we can stay the course with the Sanders campaign. Even if he does not win, his campaign has exposed the schism in the Democratic Party and empowered a new generation of activists.

The revolt against underhanded party manipulation, and distaste for the war hawk Hillary, caused Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard to resign from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to endorse Bernie. A similar separation has occurred from Maine to the state of Washington, as ‘Berners’ from ages 18 to 80 have challenged rules committees and exposed voting irregularities.

Across the country and around this state, old and new activists have risen up to demand a more open, more transparent process. They are getting into the nuts and bolts of convention politics to wrest control from the old guard.

When voters passed the Maui GMO Moratorium bill in November 2014, Mayor Arakawa, already an outspoken opponent of the initiative, ordered his county attorneys to silently side with Monsanto in the seed industry federal lawsuit, to prevent the ordinance we passed from being implemented. That tactic was in dramatic contrast to what happened in Kauai and Hawaii counties, where the administrations sought help in appealing similar seed industry lawsuits. Collusion? Corruption? Whatever it is, it emboldened a new wave of pono politicians to come forward to challenge the developer-friendly political establishment.

It’s the same story at the state level, where lobbyists have prepped industry-friendly bills for politicians. It was quite easy for A&B to get senators and representatives to approve HB2501, giving the dying sugar company three more years of public trust water.

Voting isn’t revolutionary, but we must begin by making the dysfunctional function better for people, not just corporations. The Hawaii primary will take place Saturday, August 13; winners will go on to the general election in November. Get an absentee ballot and please vote.

There are important races for State House districts. For District 11, South Maui, we have to keep Kaniela Ing in office. Kaniela has integrity and works very hard for all of Maui. In District 12, Upcountry, voters have the opportunity to replace the corporate shill Kyle Yamashita with the high-energy and wise Tiare Lawrence. North Shore voters in District 13 can vote for a hard-working Haiku neighbor, Alex Haller.

County races are more complex. Visit my Facebook page to see why I will endorse a slate of new, pono challengers.

Mark Sheehan is a health-oriented real estate broker. Contact him at

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