On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned as the President of the United States. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, took over the position of President, informing the people of the country that “our long national nightmare is over”. That next month, on September 8th, Ford provided a full and complete pardon of Nixon.
It was that move that most likely killed his presidency, losing to Jimmy Carter in 1976. For years Ford had to dodge the stigma that he let a person off on their criminal past, especially those who wanted to see justice served to Nixon.
Upon Ford’s death, though, a lot of re-examination of his move to pardon Nixon came to light. And it turned out, albeit too late, that Ford might have done the most brave thing through this action – saving the republic and all that.
So where am I going with this and current Hawaii Governor David Ige? Succinctly, as the pardon was Ford’s downfall, Ige’s light handed treatment of the Kia’i at Mauna Kea might see Ige seeing the same fate.
What if Ige is playing a real long game here. Hear me out. Say for instance he ordered the police right now to march up the mountain and evict the 1,000 or so protesters that are up there.
It could be done. In the past, actions like this has been done, with Hawaiians being forced to move by police who got in there and carried the protesters out. I cite a 1985 video of Hawaiians being evicted from a Waimanalo, Oahu park by police – look it up on YouTube.
What kind of response would that elicit at this point? Obviously, nothing too pleasant. Kanaka Maoli would be up in arms. Strikes may occur. The blockade of roads that happened in early July on Oahu may resume with aplomb. Indeed, the amount of noise would leach into the plaster walls of the hotels and TVU’s around the island, with tourists hearing all this thinking “we better get out of here”.
A massive disruption of business on the islands would occur. And the clean up of that would take months if not years.
So comes Ige, knowing this, realizing that making a move like that would do more harm than good, has decided that for the sake of peace, he chose to be light handed. Of course he is getting serious flack for it – from legislators like Sen. Loraine Inouye to Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi. If you listen to how things are said, you’d think that Ige was a dead duck politically.
And he might just be.
But if his political duck is cooked now AND gets the situation under control over a period of time, look for that re-examination to happen. I can see it now: “He was politically dead, but through patience and careful negotiation with all the sides in the Hawaiian community, he was able to get the road opened again without creating undue unpleasantness in the state”
“Business continued to hum; the tourists continued to come. And while there was still issues between the state and the Hawaiian community, at least there was more talk happening.”
Maybe that is what Ige’s goal is. And if it is, than it’s a game on a whole other level.