Na Keokani Kipona Marciel, Loea Lula Hoʻomalu
In 1840, the Hawaiian Kingdom became a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. In 1887, this democracy was compromised by insurgents who hijacked the Hawaiian Kingdom government at gunpoint. In 1893, the same insurgents were unlawfully installed as a puppet regime by a foreign country. The Hawaiian Islands have remained under belligerent occupation ever since because no treaty of cession has ever been produced to transfer the sovereignty and territory of Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina to another country. Consequently: Authoritarianism is the type of governance that people living in Hawaiʻi have primarily become accustomed to since 1887, in the absence and pretense of democracy (totaling 132 years at the time of this writing).
Born and raised overseas, I did not grow up in occupied Hawaiʻi, and have not been conditioned over my lifetime to accept authoritarian governance as a social norm. On the contrary, I was brought up with democratic ideals. Furthermore, as a professionally credentialed parliamentarian, I am rigorously trained in democratic principles for the conduct of business in organizations.
Struck by Authoritarian Lightning
In 2016, I attended the annual convention of an historic association that I will refer to here as the Americanized Hawaiian Society. The president of the association at the time had a notorious reputation for governing the organization like a dictator. I experienced this firsthand when I raised a point of order about how the board illegally rescinded and deleted a resolution—recognizing the continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the absence of a treaty of cession—adopted by the 2014 convention. Committing a cardinal sin as a presiding officer, the president got personal with me from the moment I asked for recognition from the floor. The president rejected my point of order (using incorrect and inappropriate parliamentary form), which I then appealed to the delegate assembly for a decision.
Pointing down at me condescendingly from the chair and exclaiming, "All those in favor of HIS point of order," the president took the vote (without first allowing for debate as required for a debatable appeal). I lost the decision, and it was clear that the membership was quite content with the president's leadership style. They dared not question or oppose the president. For me, it was a learning experience to witness how the membership of an historic Hawaiian organization consented to authoritarianism. In fact, the president was reelected to a second two-year term at this convention.
Struck Twice by Authoritarian Lighting
In 2019, I was struck by authoritarianism for the second time. This time, as the secretary of an historic Aloha ʻĀina association whose revival I had selflessly spearheaded and engineered for four years. The president had a tendency to want to govern like an executive officer rather than a presiding officer, and to disregard the adopted rules when desired. As parliamentary referee, I served as a check and balance whenever that would happen, by advising the board if something was not in order. Over the years, the president increasingly developed a personal grudge against me and would regularly go out of the way to defame me (character assassination).
The president's aggression escalated by cutting off all communication with me between meetings in connection with the interrelated duties of the president and secretary (akin to the pitcher refusing to throw to the catcher in baseball). Using a contrived pretext, the president underhandedly conspired with the second vice president to force me out of the office that I was elected and reelected to at successive conventions. I never fathomed that it was possible for one to outdo the dictatorial president I encountered in 2016, but the president in this case convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt. I felt treated like the proverbial goose (democracy), killed to get the golden eggs (authoritarianism).
Members Ultimately Determine if Governance is Democratic or Authoritarian
The reason I share the above two experiences (with dictators) is to show how I arrived at the following theory: Membership preparation for the meetings of an organization is directly related to the degree of democratic governance, and inversely related to the degree of authoritarian governance, that characterizes the organization. The less familiar members are with the governing documents of the organization, the less familiar members are with basic meeting procedures, and the less prepared members are for meetings (and conventions), the more potential they create for authoritarian governance. In other words, the more they create a vacuum for a dictator to step in. They tacitly consent to authoritarian governance of the organization. Consciously or unconsciously, they may even prefer authoritarian governance to democratic governance.
Alternatively, it could be that members choose to forgo the time and effort entailed in adhering to their rights and duties. Hence, they yield their decision-making responsibility to one or more officers, of which a presiding officer with a dictatorial tendency would gladly oblige, forming a silent conspiracy. Therefore, I contend that: The silent conspiracy within some organizations to adopt authoritarian governance is not uncommon in a country like the Hawaiian Islands, in which the population has been socialized by authoritarianism resulting from insurgency and ongoing belligerent occupation since 1887 (totaling 132 years at the time of this writing).
KA PAIO HANOHANO