Monday, May 07, 2007


Electing senators doesn't guarantee that only "good" and honest people will be elected to office. In Washington D.C., Marion Barry "won a fourth term as mayor in 1994 after serving a prison term on a drug conviction" according to Reuters. In Louisiana, the FBI found $90,000 in alleged bribe money in Rep. William Jefferson's freezer during a raid on his home back in August of 2005. The congressman won a ninth term for his district's seat in the 2006 elections.

In Hawaii, the incumbency rate for legislators and even the governor/lt. governor is so high that I even overheard one lawmaker state how long he was going to "serve". Legislators get to set their own term limits in a democracy where it's supposed to be the people who decide such things? What arrogance!

On top of that, it's getting so bad here that some legislators run unopposed come election time, because the conventional wisdom is that you're only wasting your time and money running against them. The only time there are more candidates is when an incumbent seeks another office or retires.

Electing senators the fa'asamoa way is not perfect, but neither is the popular vote or any other way for that matter. Bad people are always going to find a way to rig the system in their favor. I sincerely believe we will do more good focusing on what powers we give to Fono (and the ASG), instead of how we select people for that institution.

Will integrity and honesty make the Fono more capable of controlling prices? Will integrity and honesty make the Fono a fair broker when it comes to raising their own pay and allowances? Will integrity and honesty make the Fono more capable of running ASPA, spending the retirement fund or micro managing the LBJ?

No matter who we send there, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Nevertheless, senators should be ashamed to think that without them, the fa'asamoa will fade quietly into the dark. The fa'asamoa is embodied in our language, our beautiful music, our sense of humor, our communal relationships, church, our own versions of games like cricket and rugby, and so many little and not so little things in our everyday lives.

Our culture makes the senator, senators don't make the culture.


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