Ken Obenski’s essay about the weaknesses of hereditary or elected monarchies included a great synopsis of the inconsistent governance that system often provides. But he makes a huge mistake in equating the weakness of that particular form of government with the right of a conquered people to have their country back, and under the form of government they so choose.
It can be very, very hard for us who are not born and raised in the real – not “affected” – Hawaiian culture to understand the blood-felt value of a sovereignty stolen. The demerits of that former governance is totally irrelevant. We, from western cultural roots, do not “know better.”
Should renewed Hawaiian sovereignty (in some form) become real, it will have to start with the monarchy-based 1864 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, for better or for worse. The 1877 “Bayonet Constitution” was never legal; Kalakaua did not have the right to declare it legal, because his predecessor removed that privilege from the then-active Constitution of 1864. But those who will have rights of citizenship and voting can immediately create a new, modern constitution of an entirely different form of government if they wish; they merely vote on having a con-con like we just did last month.
We all need to look at the issue of Hawaiian Sovereignty without judgment of how its citizens will choose to update their form of government once they have it back. Respect monarchies, respect republics. They all fail, they all succeed. Remember what the Chinese Premier told Nixon’s front man, Henry Kissinger, in the early 1970s when the U.S. opened up trade with China: Kissinger asked the Premier what he thought of the French Revolution (late 1800s); the Premier replied, “It’s too soon to tell.” Stunningly profound.
Lastly, I gotta say, I personally don’t see renewed Hawaiian sovereignty as ending up, after years of negotiation yet to come, as an all-or-nothing outcome as some might fear, and others hope for. I see a stepped future for sovereignty that includes U.S. jurisdiction, protection and aid, but only partial land area being the State of Hawaii. The rest being under the Hawaiian Kingdom. Remember that the U.S., by legitimate treaty, built the Panama Canal under a 99 year lease! That lease expired 20 years ago, and the U.S. surrendered the Canal back to Panama (the Chinese operate it now, LOL).
Just my point of view, and I know there are many other pono and progressive options for the future. Main thing is, leave monarchy out of the issue of sovereignty being rightfully restored after our illegal U.S. occupation 125 years ago.
Keola Childs is a resident of Holualoa.