I’m running for Congress because no politician is speaking for me, which means they’re probably not speaking for many of you as well. I’m running so you don’t feel alone.
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I grew up on Kauai in a household that proudly displayed a portrait of the Obamas alongside images of my cousins, so I immediately identified as a Democrat.
While studying environmental engineering and policy at Stanford and working for a decade to combat pollution, I was surrounded by Democrats.
I began to feel as if I didn’t belong to any party as I grew older. In some respects, I was used to being an “outsider”; I’d refused to microwave food in plastic since before the smartphone era.
However, I’ve recently seen a lot of media portraying my positions as disgraceful, whether it’s my belief that sending billions of dollars in armaments to Ukraine isn’t the best use of our tax dollars (to put it kindly), or that mandated Covid-19 lockdowns did more harm than good.
I’d been opposed to vaccine requirements since 2020, when Joe Biden stated, “I don’t think [the vaccine] should be obligatory.” I wouldn’t insist on it being required.”
My social media feed these days seems to believe that everyone who opposes vaccine mandates is pro-life and conservative.
I’m betting that many pro-choice and pro-mandate supporters consider abortion as a non-fatal treatment that is a vital right for women who face financial, health, or other obstacles to completing a pregnancy or raising a child. The mandates, on the other hand, are seen as saving lives at a low cost.
And I’m betting that many pro-life and anti-mandate activists believe they are saving the lives of innocent babies, whilst Covid believes they have better solutions than vaccines. We live in a stressful time, and these are really emotive problems.
Politicians, on the other hand, should fight for what they believe in while also understanding the perspectives of others.
We can — and I would — fight for abortion rights while also collaborating with pro-life advocates to address some of the factors that lead to abortions, such as the inability to take time off work during pregnancy, let alone when raising a child.
Who knows how many of our friends and family members secretly hold opinions that we disapprove of?
When the people we most want to engage are hesitant to openly voice their opinions — or are blatantly suppressed — society will not grow.
Society will not progress if politicians refuse to speak up for the voiceless and helpless; how can we persuade people that something is worth fighting for if our leaders are unwilling to fight to the last end?
At the Dole Cannery Ballroom, the Democrats Unity Breakfast raised their arms after singing Hawaii Aloha with Governor David Ige and Senator Mazie Hirono.
At the Dole Cannery Ballroom in August 2018, top Hawaii Democrats attended the Unity Breakfast.
Civil Beat/2018/Cory Lum
Some may refer to me as a “Democrat In Name Only” because of my viewpoints. Well, I believe that the term “Democrat” is merely a moniker.
I’ve identified as a Libertarian, progressive, independent, Green, moderate, and more at various times in my life.
I used to get into lengthy debates about the definitions of phrases like these. What exactly do we mean when we say “big government”?
Since cops are government workers, does that cover them? Is it the CIA? What about the military?
Throughout it all, my underlying philosophy remained the same: too much power in too few hands corrupts. This, I believe, is a widely held notion, far more essential than any name.
Too much power in the hands of too few people tends to corrupt.
We hear that the “other side” is cruel, that the “other side” is deluded, and that the “other side” is hypocritical from all sides of the political spectrum. However, we all have inconsistencies in our belief systems. I’m a vegan, yet whenever a rooster wakes me up, I hope for the extinction of all chickens in the state.
We can forgive ourselves and each other and grow as a result of our experiences. We all have unique experiences and views that enable us to see things differently than others.
I believe that for society to collectively come up with solutions outside of the box, we need people elected who are prepared to express — and consider — unpopular viewpoints.
And we must always remember that we could be mistaken. When everyone thought Pluto was a planet, it was a big deal.
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There would be no political parties in my ideal world. (See my idea that power corrupts before.)
But I’m running as a Democrat because anyone can vote in the Democratic primary in Hawaii, whether they’re a Democrat or not.
I’m running as a Democrat in the hopes that you will reexamine your assumptions about what a “like you” believes and who a “like them” is, and that you will remember our shared humanity.