It Is Your Choice

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”’This is the speech that was given by Congressman Ed Case at a forum held Tuesday, which was coordinated by the Hawaii Publishers Association”’

“Ed Case New Image”


Every election is about a choice. Who can best represent me? Who can best lead us?

But the choice in some elections is more far-reaching.

A United States Senate election is one of those, because a U.S. Senator not only leads his or her state, a U.S. Senator is a national leader.

And any Senate election today is especially crucial. Just look at the challenges facing our country and world, from balancing our budget, to securing our homeland and world, to preserving our environment.

But every once in a great while, an election brings a choice that truly makes a difference, that truly represents a choice between two distinct roads to travel.

This is one of those elections.

Yes, it is about Senator Akaka and me. But it is about far more than that. It is about the basic direction of our state and country.

What are the elements of that choice?

First, transition.

Every good institution plans its leadership transition: our nonprofits, our small businesses, our military, our families.

And so it should be in politics generally and Congressional representation especially.

Every state needs a strong Congressional delegation at all times. Strength that comes from individual and collective ability, and from seniority, experience and relationships within Congress and without.

A state never wants to be left without those assets, especially seniority. Just look at what happened to Washington State when it lost both senior Senators in a short span; it has not recovered since. And that is especially true of small states like Hawaii, which would be swallowed up in D.C. otherwise.

Let’s talk honestly of difficult issues. Senator Inouye has 95% of the influence in our Senate delegation. He looks to be going strong, and I hope he serves for a long time yet. But his career will end sometime, and we mustn’t start from scratch then in building up the next generation of ability, seniority, experience and relationships in the Senate.

It’s a no-brainer that we should start now, to direct that transition in a way that works for all of us, rather than wait and let chance determine it.

But that’s your choice.

Second, philosophy.

Senators must make decisions; that’s our job. Thousands of decisions. Decisions that reach into and affect every facet of life in our country and world. Decisions that affect not just today but tomorrow. Touch, critical, hard decisions.

We bring to those decisions our overall values, beliefs and philosophies. And in doing so we should and must represent the values, beliefs and philosophies of those we represent.

Not that we must, should or can agree all the time. And sometimes on crucial issues we must disagree, because, as was once said, we owe to our constituents first and foremost our judgment.

But the overall question is: who best represents the values and beliefs of mainstream Hawaii and America today?

Senator Akaka has been ranked as the single most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. Across the board, in social, economic and foreign policy, the far left 1%.

I am a moderate: not far left or far right. I reject the politics of extremism. I believe in moderate and reasoned approaches to tough issues like Iraq, or Social Security, or the tax-spending balance.

Yes, part of our Hawaii constitutes the far left 1% of America’s political spectrum that Sen. Akaka represents, and they and their national counterparts are working for him, hard.

But what about the rest of us? What about the mainstream of Hawaii, who care about keeping our economy going, balancing our budget, sustaining Social Security, providing for our national defense. Who reject naive and simplistic solutions abroad?

I represent the mainstream of today’s Hawaii and tomorrow’s, while Sen. Akaka does not. And that matters. Because that is true of our country as well, and I would walk into the Senate from Day One and join together with other mainstream Senators in rejecting the politics of partisan extremism and actually getting things done.

But that’s your choice.

Third, ability.

Senators must be able to get the job done.

And what is that job?

First, to work within the halls of Congress, to discuss and debate and influence and persuade and decide. Second, to understand our world and represent our country overseas, as a national leader. Third, to make touch decisions and persevere through to real solutions. Fourth, to keep in touch with and outreach to the people, even if they are 5,000 miles away. And fifth, to reach across the aisle where necessary to achieve balanced, consensus solutions.

There is a marked contrast between Sen. Akaka and me here.

With respect, Sen. Akaka’s thirty year career in Congress has not been marked by achievement. There are no markers of national leadership.

Whether one agree or disagreed with the Akaka bill, its defeat demonstrated a failure of ability on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

He has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to a don’t-make-waves approach. Not only has that not achieved anything of value for our Hawaii, it certainly is not going to get our national problems solved.

He practices a purely partisan approach, taking orders from the Democratic leadership and disagreeing virtually never.

And he has conducted virtually no outreach to the people of Hawaii. Contrast that with my constant outreach during four years in Congress, including 172 Talk Story community meetings throughout Hawaii.

Simply put, I believe I can provide far more effective leadership in the Senate, for our Hawaii and our country, both today and tomorrow, than Sen. Akaka.

But that’s your choice.

Fourth, change.

Finally, let’s talk about the political culture, in Hawaii and nationally, in which this crucial election is occurring.

And let’s consider whether we believe that culture works and will work. Not just for the select few among us who control its levers, but for all of us. Not just today, but for the next generation.

Because Sen. Akaka is a product of that culture and is beholden to it, and I am not.

I believe it is a fundamentally broken culture. That stifles creative leadership. That prevents forward thinking. That is purely self-interested. That seeks to preclude true electoral choice. That pays lip service to most voters while excluding them.

It is a culture that does not work for us today, and certainly won’t work for us tomorrow.

It’s broken in our Hawaii. Just look at the reaction to my very candidacy. Just look at who is really opposing me and why.

The Jones Act monopoly is a perfect example. It’s not just about the policy of the Jones Act; it is the monopoly’s domination of Hawaii politics to the detriment of the people. And it’s total contributions to Sen. Akaka of over $200,000 and growing certainly show why he won’t be a change agent.

And it’s broken nationally, with all the inside-the-Beltway, special interest money going to Sen. Akaka. No change there.

This election is a referendum on that culture. Do you believe you’re really a part of your government? Do you believe this culture has been good for you? Do you think it’ll get our problems solved?

I think not.

But that’s your choice.

Yes this election is about a choice.

Between the past, and the future.

Ineffective representation, or real leadership.

The way things are, or a better way forward.

This election is a stark fork in the road, for our Hawaii and country, today and for the next generation.

It’s your choice. Don’t let anyone else make it for you.

”’See”’ ”’for more information.”’

”’Congressman Ed Case is a Democrat representing the state of Hawaii.”’

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