I was given the opportunity to attend a candidate’s fundraiser this last Friday (10/18). It was the first fundraiser for Honolulu City Council candidate Augusto Tulba, known throughout Hawaii and people with Hawaii at heart, Augie T, a professional entertainer and local comedian.
He is running for the 9th Council District, basically a portion of the southwest and central Oahu, including the towns of Ewa, Waipahu and south Mililani.
What one expects from a candidate’s fundraiser goes something like this – supporters (typically other office holders) speaking on behalf of the candidate. The candidate than speaks and makes their pitch for office. Bim bam boom, its all done, thanks for coming.
This night’s fundraiser, though, was different in so many ways. First off, lets talk about the format, this was not just a bunch of political heads coming up and speaking to the audience. This was, instead, a night of laughs with epic comedy names coming to both entertain the crowd and support one of their own.
Those who performed were local comedic veterans Frank Delima and Andy Bumatai. For those familiar with the names, you need no introduction.
Their performances were outstanding. The speech by Augie helped frame who he was and why he was running.
But there was something else that happened at that event, on that evening, that left me both in awe and feeling like the Hawaii we want to have is still alive.
I’m calling it “bringing back the spirit” for lack of a better way to say it.
It started with the stories that Frank and Andy said during their performances. While humor was the common thread, it was also the liberal addition of a “local sense of place”. Those stories to me evoked a time when, even in our differences, we were able to find common ground, even if it was a “agree to disagree” conclusion.
The stories were light, it was ethnic, it was generational, it was deeply cultural. The way the stories were told, with a heavy dose of Pidgin English as the language medium, brought to me the feeling that there was still a version of Hawaii that we could all agree on.
Later on, after the event, in talking to Augie, I told him he found a way to bring back a Hawaii that needs to be promoted more. That is: be clear with your words and intentions but also be ready to discuss your points with the goal of a resolution.
Right now, that is not where Hawaii is.
Instead, we have a Hawaii that is becoming permanently polarized. It demands full capitulation of everyone into one point of view. It stresses the addressing of issues that, if ever resolved the way the proponents want, will have unintended consequences on a massive scale, changing the nature of Hawaii, permanently.
Augie smiled and agreed. Then he went to make a call to Andy, perhaps to plan the next time that they all get together to bring that spirit of Hawaii back. I look forward to that.