In my last two posts, I explained why I’m voting “Yes” for a Constitutional Convention. To be fair, today I’m covering the reasons why some oppose a ConCon.
Most opposition boils down to this: We have a great State Constitution. We risk losing some of our treasured rights. The Legislature may set up an unfair process. The Convention can be dominated by extreme or special interests. Hawaii residents won’t invest the time in a Convention, or educate themselves on the proposed amendments coming out of a Convention.
I agree the first four statements are true. Our Constitution is great; there are risks associated with a Convention; and if regular people are apathetic, then it could be an unfair process and/or dominated by narrow interests.
But a resident-led ConCon may be our only hope to address some chronic issues, like housing, education and open government.
The fundamental question is: Do you think Hawaii residents will get engaged in a ConCon, like we did in 1978, or do you think we won’t invest the time, leaving the process up to extreme or special interests?
Many opponents believe Hawaii residents won’t be active in a ConCon, pointing to general apathy about governance.
But I think they are mixing up cause and effect.
They believe a ConCon won’t make a positive difference because Hawaii residents aren’t active in governance.
I believe many residents aren’t active in governance because they rarely have a chance to make a difference.
But that behavior changes when people think there is a chance at making a difference. Fifty-four people stepped forward to run for 12 open seats in state government this year – more than double the rate people ran against incumbents.
Compared to the rest of the nation, we volunteer more, donate more, step up to help our community more. Polls show we strongly favor good governance, like stronger Sunshine and campaign finance laws, and are not reckless or extreme in our political views.
There’s no guarantee that your fellow residents will be active in a ConCon, or that you can trust their judgement. But that’s really what you’re voting on when you get to this question.
Personally, I can’t share the bleak opinion of Hawaii residents that underlies some opponents’ arguments. I can only face the future with hope and faith in the people we live together with on these precious islands.