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Republican and Democrat 2012 national and state party platforms regarding the Akaka bill and Hawaiian racial entitlements

(c) Copyright by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. September 4, 2012

** NOTE: A shorter version of this essay was published on September 4, 2012 in Hawaii Reporter online newspaper at
and also in Hawaii Political Info blog at

It's often said that political party platforms are a waste of time, because voters don't pay attention to them and candidates don't feel bound by them. But sometimes particular platform planks are the focus of intense infighting among party loyalists. A party's platform can provide a sense of the values and programmatic intentions of party activists. Independent voters might actually read party platforms if they're having trouble choosing when candidates or parties seem bland, vague, or otherwise indistinguishable.


The 54-page 2012 platform of the national Republican Party is available at

Strong opposition to creating any new race-based governments (i.e., the Akaka bill) is tempered by a pledge to maintain government tribal handouts generally and to include Native Hawaiians in providing such programs on an equitable basis.

Here are the only two sentences directly applicable to Native Hawaiians, taken from the 54-page Republican national platform: "As a matter of principle, we oppose the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States." (page 9) "We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures." (page 27)

In 2012 the national platform of the Republican Party devotes an entire section on page 9 to laying a foundation of commitment to conservative principles of racial equality firmly grounded in the Constitution, and ends that section of the platform with this very clear statement: "As a matter of principle, we oppose the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States." That statement does not single out any particular states or Native American groups, but is generally directed against all Congressional legislation or executive action to give federal recognition to any new tribes (there are hundreds of Indian groups seeking federal recognition). The statement clearly applies to the Akaka bill. Indeed, the sentence might have been specifically directed against the Akaka bill since so many Republican leaders have fought so hard against the bill for 12 years.

Here is the context leading up to that final sentence (all found on page 9). The context adds great strength and clarity to the thrust of the sentence.

"We are the party of the Constitution, the solemn compact which confirms our God-given individual rights and assures that all Americans stand equal before the law. Perhaps the greatest political document ever written, it defines the purposes and limits of government and is the blueprint for ordered liberty that makes the U.S. the world’s freest, most stable, and most prosperous nation. Its Constitutional ideals have been emulated around the world, and with them has come unprecedented prosperity for billions of people. In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral. We will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes and ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance. ... As a matter of principle, we oppose the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States."

However, the Republican platform for 2012 also has a section on pages 26-27 entitled "Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians" which unfortunately includes Native Hawaiians along with American Natives and Alaska Natives in promising to uphold the federal trust relationship which provides the legal basis for racial entitlement programs to Indian tribes.

Here's the troubling sentence: "We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures."

The sentence is clearly limited to an assurance that federal programs providing benefits to Indians, Alaska Natives, and Hawaiians will continue to be supported, and that all those groups will have "equitable participation" in such programs. Surely nobody would oppose efforts to preserve native cultures and languages, which "we consider to be national treasures." But it is troubling to see Republicans pledging support for racial entitlement programs generally, when such programs violate the pledge to support racial equality previously noted on page 9. And it is especially troubling to see Native Hawaiians lumped together in the same sentence with federally recognized Indian tribes and to see a promise that Native Hawaiians will share "equitably" in the racial entitlement programs given to recognized tribes. Even the Akaka bill contains a disclaimer that the Akaka tribe will not automatically share in any of the programs which automatically give benefits to all federally recognized tribes -- this sentence promising "equitable participation" in such programs would go far beyond and perhaps vitiate the limitation written into the Akaka bill.

Here is more of the context from pages 26-27 leading up to the offending sentence:

"Based on both treaty and other law, the federal government has a unique government-to-government relationship with and trust responsibility for Indian Tribal Governments and American Indians and Alaska Natives. These obligations have not been sufficiently honored. ... American Indians have established elected tribal governments to carry out the public policies of the tribe, administer services to its tribal member constituents, and manage relations with federal, State, and local governments. ... Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges confronting Indian country. We believe that tribal governments and their communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are best situated to craft solutions that will end systemic problems that create poverty and disenfranchisement. ... Republicans reject a one-size-fits-all approach to federal-tribal-State partnerships and will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. ... To protect everyone -- and especially the most vulnerable: children, women, and elder -- the legal system in tribal communities must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone’s due process and civil rights must be safeguarded. We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures."



A strongly-worded resolution opposing the Akaka bill was adopted by the Hawaii Republican Party by a vote of its members on the floor of its most recent statewide convention, held on May 14, 2011.

The following URL allows direct access to the Hawaii Republican Party individual resolution opposing the Akaka bill:
The path to finding it on the Republican Party website is:
Go to Hawaii Republican Party website at
Then hover the cursor over "About us"
And use the pull-down menu to click on "2011 Resolutions."


Whereas, the "Akaka Bill" violates the fundamental values inherent in the Hawai'i Republican Party's LLIFE platform;

Whereas, the "Akaka Bill" imposes an entirely new level of governance upon the Hawaiian people;

Whereas, the "Akaka Bill" trades away individual Liberty in exchange for government grants and favors;

Whereas, the "Akaka Bill" denigrates the principles of Individual Responsibility;

Whereas, the "Akaka Bill" creates unequal opportunities, fiefdoms of favoritism, and artificial barriers to our citizens;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Hawai'i Republican Party in convention at Lihue, Hawai'i, May 14, 2011, hereby expresses its unalterable opposition to the "Akaka Bill" and to any iteration of it that robs Hawaiians of Liberty and Equal Opportunity or imposes more government and the fiscal and moral calamities such a course inevitably brings;

Therefore, be it further resolved, that copies of this resolution be posted on the Hawai'i Republican Party website and distributed to Hawai'i elected officials and media for public dissemination.

The most recent platform of the Hawaii Republican Party was adopted in 2010. Known as the LLIFE statement of five fundamental principles, it does not directly mention the Akaka bill but provides a context in which the resolution of 2011 can be more clearly understood

The 2010 Hawai'i Republican Party Platform

Preamble: The strength of Hawai'i lies within individuals and their families; Constitutional freedoms empower the people to meet current and future challenges. We believe in...

-- Liberty --

Freedom to pursue inherent American guarantees of Life and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Freedom secured by the rule of law, not by arbitrary judicial or executive decrees, provides all Americans an equal choice to pursue a productive and meaningful life.

-- Limited Government --

Government exists to protect our God-given rights, defend our sovereignty and borders, and provide infrastructure for the common good.

The government that governs least, based on the Constitution, governs best.

Government, at any level, should not perform functions which are better and less expensively performed by individuals or private organizations.

Government enforces laws that allow for a prosperous free market; it does not compete with nor over-regulate the free market.

-- Individual Responsibility --

Each person is responsible and accountable for the consequences of their actions.

We embrace the opportunity to help those in need.

-- Fiscal Accountability --

Government is responsible to balance the budget by eliminating waste and reducing spending before raising taxes.

Before any law or regulation is enacted, the economic impact should be calculated fairly and disclosed publicly.

Government should not burden future generations with excessive debt.

-- Equality of Opportunity --

Each individual has the opportunity to achieve, without any guarantee for a particular outcome.

As Americans, we believe individuals are limited only by their vision, abilities, intellect, and personal ambitions.

Epilogue: We believe that America is exceptional. We believe all of our greatest accomplishments are achieved by men and women free to live their own lives and pursue their own dreams.



The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate is former Governor Linda Lingle. Throughout her entire 8 years as Governor she strongly supported the Akaka bill and made it her top priority. She aggressively pushed it during multiple trips to Washington D.C. where she testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, went onto the Senate floor to lobby individual Senators during recess or quorum calls, lobbied President Bush during a sleepover in the White House, etc. She blasted letters to all 100 Senators supporting the bill. When President Bush spent several hours in Honolulu attending a fundraiser during a stopover on the way home from Asia, Lingle lobbied him in the limousine and at the event.

The Republican candidate for U.S. House in Hawaii Congressional District #1 is Charles Djou. He was a member of the Honolulu City Council in 2010, when he first ran for the U.S. House. There was a special election in mid 2010, following the resignation of Rep. Neil Abercrombie to campaign for Governor. Djou won in a winner-take-all three-way contest in which the two Democrat candidates split the Democrat vote allowing Djou to win. However, in November 2010 he lost to the current Congress member Colleen Hanabusa. He is once again a candidate for the same seat, against now-incumbent Hanabusa, in November 2012. While serving on City Council he chaired the committee which pushed through a resolution supporting the Akaka bill. During his campaign for Congress in 2010 he had a 30-minute interview on a daily radio program sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, during which he strongly supported both the Akaka bill and the Hawaiian racial entitlement programs. He enthusiastically pointed out that as a Republican he would be far more effective in persuading his fellow Republicans to support the Akaka bill.

The Republican candidate for U.S. House in Hawaii Congressional District #2 is Kawika Crowley, a middle-age unemployed ne'er-do-well Caucasian who has been active in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and gave himself the Hawaiian name Kawika (David). He has very little campaign money and is largely unknown, although he defeated another (also unknown) candidate in the Republican primary. He will clearly lose to the popular, youthful, beautiful Tulsi Gabbard, a former representative in the state legislature who resigned to serve two tours in the National Guard in Afghanistan, was then elected to City Council, and then won the Democrat nomination for U.S. House. Kawika Crowley is a conservative tea-party Republican on most issues, but favors both the Akaka bill and the Hawaiian independence movement.

Thus all three Hawaii Republican candidates for federal office strongly support the Akaka bill and Hawaiian racial entitlement programs. They stand in opposition to both the national and state platforms of the Republican Party. They believe the only way they might win as Republicans is to run away from their party platforms to become politically correct and bipartisan. Having abandoned their party's conservative platforms, perhaps their party's conservative members will feel justified in abandoning Lingle, Djou, and Crowley.

Republicans from Hawaii who favor the Akaka bill are far more dangerous in Congress than Democrats who favor the Akaka bill, because it is Senate Republicans who have blocked the Akaka bill for 12 years and who might be talked out of blocking it if Republicans from Hawaii relentlessly plead with them. For a large webpage providing details about Lingle, Djou, and Crowley's support for the Akaka bill and racial entitlement programs, including links to newspaper reports and radio interviews, see "Why it's important to defeat Lingle and Djou for U.S. Senate and House in November 2012" at



The 70-page 2012 platform of the national Democrat Party is available at

One powerful sentence on page 50 puts the Democrat Party strongly and explicitly in favor of the Akaka bill: "Democrats support maximizing tribal self-governance, including efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of Native Hawaiians."

That sentence is at the end of a section entitled "Tribal Sovereignty" whose full text is as follows: "American Indian and Alaska Native tribes are sovereign self-governing communities, with a unique government-to-government relationship with the United States. President Obama and Democrats in Congress, working with tribes, have taken unprecedented steps to resolve long-standing conflicts, finally coming to a resolution on litigation – some dating back nearly 100 years – related to management of Indian trust resources, administration of loan programs, and water rights. The President worked with Democrats to pass the HEARTH Act to promote greater tribal self-determination and create jobs in Indian Country. The Affordable Care Act permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to improve care for Native Americans. Democrats enacted the Tribal Law and Order Act, support expansion of the Violence Against Women Act to include greater protection for women on tribal lands, and oppose versions of the Violence Against Women Act that do not include these critical provisions. We will continue to honor our treaty and trust obligations and respect cultural rights, including greater support for American Indian and Alaska Native languages. Democrats support maximizing tribal self-governance, including efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of Native Hawaiians.

Native Hawaiians are also mentioned in passing in the following two sentences from page 37: "We invested more than $2.5 billion in savings from reforming our student loan system to strengthen our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska, Hawaiian Native Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions. These schools play an important role in creating a diverse workforce, educating new teachers, and producing the next generation of STEM workers."



The 2012 platform of the Hawaii Democratic Party was approved at its state convention, and is available here:

The preamble has 13 fundamental principles, including: "12. Support the rights of native Hawaiians and the preservation of native Hawaiian culture"

Following is the entire section of the platform whose heading is "Native Hawaiians" and which strongly and explicitly supports both the Akaka bill and the racial entitlement programs:

"Native Hawaiians are indigenous peoples of Hawai'i and deserve a just relationship with the state and federal governments. We support recognition by Congress of native Hawaiians as indigenous people as provided by the U.S. Constitution. Such recognition will begin the process for native Hawaiian self-determination consistent with federal policy extended to other indigenous peoples of the United States. We support na kanaka maoli right to self-determination. We are committed to the support of native Hawaiian agencies, organizations, and programs that increase the quality of life for kanaka maoli. We especially value our host culture that has allowed diversity to thrive. We support the growth of Native Hawaiian farming, agricultural and healing practices. We value and wish to foster the preservation of our host culture."



Mazie Hirono, candidate for U.S. Senate, lost the election for Governor to Linda Lingle in 2000. When Representative Ed Case chose to run for Senate in 2006 in the Democrat primary against Dan Akaka, Mazie Hirono ran successfully for his House seat and has served there for three terms, from 2007 to 2012. In the tradition of Hawaii Democrats, she became a champion of pork-barrel politics, bringing home the bacon through earmarks. Nearly all of them were for local projects with no national significance that should be paid for by local people rather than by the people of other states. Her list of earmarks for fiscal year 2011, including dollar amounts and descriptions, is at

A campaign advertisement against her in August 2012 points out that Hirono sponsored or cosponsored several dozen bills but none of them was successful. However, of greatest concern in this essay is that as Hawaii's senior member in the House of Representatives, Hirono is the sponsor and introducer of the Akaka bill. The Akaka bill was introduced in the House on March 30, 2011 where it was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources but has lain dormant, never having a hearing.

Colleen Hanabusa served in the Hawaii state Senate from 1998 to 2010, when she resigned to run for the U.S. House. Just days after her election in November 1997, the author of this webpage, Ken Conklin, was extremely surprised to see her appearing at a Hawaiian sovereignty rally in Waimanalo, where she had traveled all the way from her home in Wai'anae. She spoke only briefly but very persuasively telling the crowd of about 100 secessionists that she has special respect for the "first people" of Hawaii and the "host culture", and "My door will always be open to you whenever you need help in the legislature." Hanabusa rose to the rank of President of the Senate before she resigned in 2010 to run for the U.S. House where she currently is serving her first term and is running for re-election against Charles Djou. While in the state Senate Hanabusa was Chair of the Committee on Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs (now reduced in scope to Hawaiian Affairs alone) where she sponsored many bills exclusively benefitting Native Hawaiians. On March 30, 2011 Hanabusa signed on as first cosponsor of the Akaka bill. With the departure of Rep. Mazie Hirono, Colleen Hanabusa, in her second term, will be Hawaii's senior member of Congress.

Tulsi Gabbard, at age 32, is a political veteran with 11 years experience in elective office. At age 21 she was the youngest woman in America ever elected to a state legislature. As a member of the Hawaii National Guard she was called to duty, resigned from the legislature and served in combat in Iraq. She has since risen to the rank of Captain in the Army National Guard and is now a Company Commander. In 2006 she served as legislative aide to Senator Akaka, during the period when the Akaka bill narrowly lost a cloture motion to end a Republican filibuster following 5 hours of floor debate in the Senate. She later won election to Honolulu City Council. In 2012 while serving on the City Council she won the Democrat primary election for U.S. House to replace Mazie Hirono, defeating the former mayor of Honolulu by a wide margin. There is no doubt she will win election to the U.S. House in November.

Gabbard's House campaign webpage has a large section entitled "native Hawaiian Issues."

Here are excerpts from that section:

"The fact that our country overthrew the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 [false!] is a great injustice and something that weighs heavily on my heart. As I consider this unjust act, I think of my two years working with Senator Akaka, watching him work tirelessly trying to get the Akaka Bill passed into law. Now, that Senator Akaka is retiring, I look to making the passage of this legislation to recognize Hawaiians as an indigenous people one of my top priorities. This is Senator Akaka’s legacy and something that’s got to be done for the Hawaiian people. ... I believe the U.S. government through an act of Congress should more formally recognize the special legal/political status of Native Hawaiians. Pending re-organization of a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity, through the process commenced by Act 195 (2011) or a Native Hawaiian-driven process, I would immediately work with the delegation to pass a bill or administrative regulation acknowledging this status, without the government building components that would be difficult to pass at this time. ... I assisted Senator Akaka with programs and legislation directly benefitting Native Hawaiians. Specific efforts included supporting Native Hawaiian 8(a) businesses, and working with Senator Akaka to introduce the Kalaupapa Memorial Act, which passed as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009. Formal recognition of Indian Commerce Clause status of Native Hawaiians would help reauthorization of these important acts. Additionally, tying such reauthorizations to Native Alaskan health and education acts is good strategy because Republican Don Young of Alaska needs Democratic support. Congresswoman Hirono successfully used this strategy in 2011 to obtain reauthorization of $41 million in education funds for Native Hawaiians. ..."


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