Debate was quashed at GOP convention
Disruption. That's the reason given by Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Willes Lee for entirely eliminating debate on the party's platform at the party convention this past weekend. Disruption and swearing during the debate.
Except that there was no debate.
Neither was there any at successive platform committee meetings held throughout March and April where the group was placated with a series of straw votes, mindless exercises and guest speakers.
Debate was stopped despite the subcommittees' readiness to submit individual platform planks. Not even one plank was released for debate, amendment or approval.
There was no disruption. There was only outrage at the anarchic and lawless behavior of platform chairman Darwin Ching. An entire month of work by a dozen subcommittees was casually discarded.
Ching solemnly promised the slighted committee members that they would have time at the convention to introduce their ideas for consideration, either as platform planks or as resolutions.
Instead, at the convention, he quickly forced an immediate vote without any debate at all. It was over before many even knew it was happening. Ching also prevented any substantive resolutions from reaching the convention floor.
The tyrants running the show would not risk allowing fair-minded Republican delegates to hear any argument that countered their agenda. The party hacks would lose a fair fight. They even hired a mainland political junkie experienced in disenfranchising convention delegations to suppress any opposition.
Fearful of the power of persuasion and knowing the intellectual weakness of their own arguments, they resorted to crass manipulation.
Playing straight, they might have to admit that a multibillion-dollar rail system and a future of high taxation is not the best plan for Honolulu.
They might be forced to surrender to the fact that freedom is a better course to pursue for all who call Hawaii home; that an apartheid-like regime might bring decades of pain to Hawaii as it did to South Africa.
They might have to justify government intervention in a bankrupt North Shore hotel property that carries great financial risk to the taxpayers of Hawaii.
They might have to explain their tolerance of high-dollar donors to Democratic opponents, who simultaneously have served and are currently serving as high-level policy operatives within the party.
But there was no debate.
Contravening all Republican tradition as well as party rules and plain common sense, Lee and Ching took control. They have a Pyrrhic victory.
That's when the swearing started. I was one who cursed them.
Michael G. Palcic is a Honolulu businessman, a Republican Party district chairman and a member of the party platform committee.