Hit & Run

Say Goodbye to Paradise?

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Is Hawaii really in play? That's what every parachute-wielding political journalist must surely be hoping, and Dick Cheney has gone as far as predicting a third-ever GOP victory.

With the parties suddenly competing for the island vote, this tight race may have unexpected consequences on an issue you may not have heard much about: Hawaiian sovereignty. From the Honolulu Advertiser article:

[John] Edwards repeated his and Kerry's support for a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill that has been held up in Congress since 2000. The bill would recognize Hawaiians as an indigenous people, similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, and would establish a process for Hawaiian sovereignty.

I told y'all that the Democrats were fostering breakaway sentiment! But wait -- the Republicans are on the sovereignty tip as well. From the Hawaiian Independence Blog, quoting the Advertiser from last month:

A measure to allow federal recognition of Native Hawaiians is dead for this year, but Hawai'i's senators yesterday secured a promise from Republican leaders to let the so-called Akaka bill come to the Senate floor for a vote next year.

I interviewed a Hawaiian congresswoman at the Republican Convention about the independence/sovereignty overlap, and she surprised me by saying that her delegation helped place the issue in the Republican Party Platform [PDF]. The relevant passage:

We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their cultures and languages.

Her words to me were to the effect that such a bill would "protect" the amount of federal money that currently flows from Washington to paradise.

At any rate, for what it's worth, a journalist friend of mine who lives in Hawaii tells me "the polls are bogus."

Why? Older Asians, who make up a huge chunk of the population out here, rarely participate in these polls (they consider these types of things an intrusion). They are also heavily Democratic. As a result, polls out here almost always undercount Democratic votes. Actually, this is a well-documented phenomenon that has been covered extensively by local media in years past.