As a general rule, I reject the notion of new year resolutions. Sure, I get why people make them; the start of a new year seems like a natural occasion to make new changes in one’s life. But I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who has successfully kept true to their new year resolutions.

You know what they say; today is the first day of the rest of your life. It seems to me if you are really interested in making a change, why wait for a national holiday to do it? Despite my apathy for new year resolutions, I expect 2018 to be a pivotal year in my life. In lots of different ways and for lots of different reasons.

40 in 2018

Though I haven’t thought much about it (partly because I don’t want to), 2018 will mark my 40th birthday. In recent years, my birthdays have generally come and gone with little fanfare and I don’t know that I expect much different next year.

But for me, passing 40 years of age is a milestone I am not looking forward to. In my mind, I should be much further along in my life. And though I’ve made trade-offs over the last 15 years, because I love this place I live, I feel fairly unaccomplished.

I own no property. No savings and minimal retirement investments. I remain single and haven’t been in a committed relationship since moving to Hawaii; I have no family of my own. And perhaps most frustrating is the feeling I am still struggling to make a career in my chosen profession.

I imagine most people when they reach 40, feel like “an adult”. I often don’t as I feel like I’m still trying to find my place, my purpose.

A Catalyst for Professional Changes

Despite the looming milestone (and potential mid-life crisis), 2018 could prove to be the most pivotal year of my life after 2002, when I moved to Hawaii.

One way or another, I suspect I will see my current employment come to an end.

Governor David Ige, for whom I work, is facing a tough reelection this year. And while I believe he can stave off his primary election challenger, there is certainly no guarantee. As an appointee, I work at the pleasure of the Governor and would have to be rehired by his successor in the event of his loss.

I’ve been in this situation before; four years ago when Ige beat the sitting Governor, Neil Abercrombie, in the Democratic Primary. I was incredibly fortunate to be kept on for the current administration. I seriously doubt I will have that kind of luck twice.

While this situation creates a level of uncertainty in my job, I don’t completely mind it. Without significant changes to my role and responsibilities in the office, I am not inclined to stay to the end of a second term. I’ve gotten about all I can out of my current position and am ready to move on.

This was the case two years ago, which is why I decided to go back to school.

In July, I will complete my Masters in Political Management from George Washington University. I started the program with the goal of learning some new skills, as well as validating with an advanced degree the skills I’ve cultivated as a volunteer activist over the last decade.

Once I decided to do it, I never looked back. Despite knowing the financial expense and that I’d likely be paying for it for the rest of my life. I wanted to move up and out of my current position and the degree was the best way I saw to do it.

And though I am struggling to figure out what comes next professionally, I’m excited (and worried) about what opportunities may present themselves with this specialized degree under my belt.

A Year for Real Change

When I think about what this year has to offer, I am most excited about the progressive political activism that has been building since Bernie Sanders announced his bid for the Presidency. In the more then ten years I’ve been involved in Hawaii politics, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Progressive-minded people are running professional campaigns for elective office across the state in greater numbers than I can recall seeing before. We are organizing, collaborating, breaking down silos across issues. Progressives are coming together for a common purpose and a common agenda: make Hawaii a better place for everyone.

HAPA’s Kuleana Academy has churned out dozens of individuals ready to be solid candidates and activists that can serve as real and useful support to those candidates. I am a graduate of their second cohort.

And the organization I co-founded in early 2017, Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI), is poised to make a marked impact on the 2018 legislative session, as well as the 2018 elections. For the first time, maybe ever, I really feel like I personally will be able to make real tangible change.

A Life in Balance – Personal Goals

Maybe for my whole life, I’ve struggled for balance and for mental and physical wellness. 2018 won’t be any different.

It seems I always have a list of things I want to accomplish, skills I want to improve. I’ve never been great at self-motivation, though there are obviously exceptions.

My parents often point out that I should spend more time focusing on my hobbies, more time relaxing, and more time enjoying the special things Hawaii has to offer. They’re right. Between my day job and the work I am passionate about, there seems little time to take a break for other interests. In what time I do have, I struggle to find the energy to do anything other than being at home on my couch.

Maybe most importantly, I need to be more healthy. Though I continue to struggle with some level of depression, it’s in check. I’ve learned over many years how to cope with its ebbs and flows. But I also need to address my slowly rising weight and general lethargy. There’s no doubt I’d feel better over-all if my physical health were better, but I nonetheless battle to find the motivation.

Aside from politics, I enjoy writing, photography, and music. I will try to continue to develop my skills as a photographer. I will take more time to explore new music to appreciate the artists and albums I already love. At the top of this list: continue to write regularly on this blog about the things in my life.


I’m excited and nervous for what 2018 has in store. Here’s hoping it’s mostly great stuff.

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Yesterday was a day of opposites. A day of ups and downs. At different times yesterday, I was in tears and heartbroken. In other moments, my heart was filled with hope and love and optimism.

In the morning, I attended a memorial service for my friend and mentor, Flo Kong Kee. She was one of the first people I met when I first got involved in local politics. I was a foreigner. I was a haole from Kansas who wanted to work to make Hawaii (and the world) a better, more equitable place for everyone.

Flo welcomed me, mentored me, and listened to me. She had more love for Hawaii and its people, culture, and land more than anyone else I met here. She was more determined, driven, and filled with aloha than anyone else I worked with. When she struggling with personal illness, when she was worn-out, was on the losing end of important battles, she was never bitter. She was never without hope. Even in those times, especially in those time, she was always smiling, optimistic and thinking about what comes next.

We didn’t always agree on issues, on policy priorities or how to reach our goals. But I never doubted her commitment to working people, to making Hawaii better for everyone.

She was taken from us far too early. And I regret never sharing with her how much she meant to me and how much I valued and respected her.

After the memorial, I walked a few blocks through Waikiki back to where the Kuleana Academy was meeting. And I spent a good portion of the rest of the day with the group participating in the third cohort. The people in this group come from all over the state, from different backgrounds, from different experiences.

I also participated in Kuleana Academy earlier in the year, learning and growing with a wonderful and dynamic group of people.

Yesterday and during previous weekends, I sat in the back of the room, listening to this group of people talking story, questioning each other and learning from each other. I talk to this current cohort and smile and feel inspired.

Then, as the sun set and the day crept to its conclusion, I witnessed their graduation from the program. And I couldn’t help but be hopeful for our future. I am so excited to continue to get to know this fantastic group of people and work with them for the betterment of Hawaii and the most disadvantaged of those who live here.

It was a hard and hopeful day. I will miss Flo and am sad she isn’t here to help us shape a better future for Hawaii, but we will persevere. Imua!

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It seems the only traffic my site gets anymore is when I post a video of my lip syncing to songs I like. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time (or much energy) to make any new videos in the last few weeks. Sorry.

School. The legislative session. Trying to wrangle supporters for a fight on a $15 minimum wage for Hawaii. The Kuleana Academy. All these efforts have sucked up so much of my energy, that there’s little left. I’m working to increase my efficiency and time management, but adjustments to my routine are slow to come; I’m a creature of habit. So, until that happens, not only can I not promise regular posts, but I can’t promise regular videos, either.

Still, it’s (mostly) for my intellectual and career betterment, so I hope you’ll understand.

I’ve got a few minutes while my phone and iPad update their software, so I thought I’d share with you a recent assignment I completed. It’s a mock speech I wrote for Donald Trump. This past week in class, we studied the construction of speeches and how people make (political) decisions. The lesson’s final assignment was to write a speech, using polling data from 2015 and the lessons we learned to write a speech for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

At first, I thought writing a speech for Trump would make my skin crawl and my guts and progressive instincts would revolt if I attempt a speech for the cheeto man. But after thinking about it, I thought it would not only be easier (less wonky) and could actually be kinda fun. And so it was.

Hopefully, it will tickle you as much to read it as it did for me to write it:

There are so many wonderful people here today. There are thousands of people here today and all of you want America to be great again. I will make America great again!

Over the past eight years, crime has risen, violence against Americans around the world has risen, the cost of health care has risen, our economy has stagnated, and good jobs have been hard to find. These are all bad things and all are the product of a President and a Congress that has failed too many ordinary, hard-working Americans.

But Wall Street has done gangbusters. They have done terrific while everyday people, ordinary Americans like you good folks here today, have fallen behind. You have struggled. You have lost jobs. And you have lost faith and hope in the America we all love. I love this country!

The politicians in Washington have done nothing. Nothing! They are all talk. When they come home to tell you what they’re doing, what they are going to do to make your lives better, they say all sorts of things. They make promises and do not keep them. When I am elected President of the United States of America, my first order of business, on day one, will be to make sure government is working for the people, not Wall Street and the corporate lobbyists.

You know, I saw a poll the other day. I Pew poll, I think it was. This poll said half of all Americans feel like they are falling behind. Half! And the other half? Well, they are doing ok, but most of them do not see things getting any better for themselves or for their families. If you are not making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and most of you are not, you are struggling. Your families and your friends are struggling.

This same poll, the Pew poll, found that more than eighty percent of you who are making less than one hundred thousand dollars a year, view the economy as poor.

Too many of you believe there aren’t enough good paying jobs. How can this be in the country with the greatest economy in the world? Well, I will tell you. Those good jobs are being given to illegal immigrants. People are crossing our borders, entering our country illegally and taking good jobs from folks like you.

For the greatest country in the history of the world, this is unacceptable. What happened? How did we come to this?

For starters, this country has been taken over by status quo politicians. Lobbyists and banks have rigged the system for themselves. The Washington establishment and Wall Street elites have forgotten about you and have utterly ignored the cries and the needs of good, hard working ordinary Americans. All of you here today because you are being left behind by a system and by leaders who don’t care about you.

The Democrats’ front-runner Hillary Clinton, says America never stopped being great. She says America has always been great. Wow, is she wrong. She is so wrong! She is the queen of the Washington elite. She is bought and paid for by Wall Street and the big banks and she is so out of touch with ordinary Americans. Even Democrats aren’t thrilled with the economic prospects of the country; only about one quarter of them think the economy will improve in the next year.

But I am not like Hillary. I am not a career politician intent on maintaining the status quo. I am not a high-paid Wall Street lobbyist looking out for the interests of my clients. I am not a member of the political establishment. I am a political outsider.

I am in the race for President, not for myself or my family. I am already a very successful businessman with billions of dollars. I am in this race for President of the United States because I love this country. I love its citizens. I love the hard-working people of this country and I want them to be prosperous and successful. I am in this race for President to make that happen, to help all of you who are here with me today.

How can we fix everything that is wrong with our country? How make this country great again?

First, I will start by getting the government out of the pockets of ordinary Americans. Your taxes are too high! And how does the political establishment in Washington spend those hard-earned dollars? They spend them by sending money around the world to help people you have never met in countries you have never heard of. They use your tax dollars to subsidize banks and corporations; the wealthiest among us. I should know. I pay so little in taxes it is unbelievable! This has to change.

As President, I will make sure the government is working for ordinary people. Government will stop taxing to death people like you, people who work hard to support their families.

Second, as President I will make sure good paying jobs stop getting taken by illegal immigrants. We need to put a stop to this right away, but the Washington establishment has done nothing about it. They triangulate, they posture, and they compromise. They worry about how they will be perceived by pollsters and by people around the world. They are more concerned about politics than about doing what is necessary to help Americans now. When I am elected President, I will see to it that our borders are secure and that jobs right here in America are going to hard working citizens!

It is true, too, that too many American jobs are being sent overseas. We are losing too many jobs to places like China. The Chinese are laughing at us. American businesses, tired of wages that are too high and government regulations that are too stringent, are sending their manufacturing jobs, their call center jobs, and even their high-tech jobs to countries all over the world. All the while, the career politicians, the Washington establishment talk to us about free trade and globalization.

And everyone is talking about the minimum wage being too low.

We do not need to raise the federal minimum wage! We need to reduce regulation! We need to get government off the backs of businesses so they can create good paying jobs and bring back good paying jobs to America. Businesses will be set free from burdensome regulations. There will be good paying jobs for Americans, not illegal immigrants. I tell you, when I bring those jobs back from places like China, there will be so many good paying jobs in this country, it will be amazing!

I will do all this and more to make sure Americans can work in jobs they can be proud of. Jobs that will allow them to provide for themselves, for their families. When I become President, Americans will not have to struggle just to get by. And you all will be proud of your country again.

Vote for me and I will take away this rigged government system from the Washington establishment and from Wall Street lobbyists, and giving it back to the people. I will make this country great again.

Vote for me and I will make sure America’s economy is the greatest in the world again!

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