The Hawaii Candidate?

Hawaii

A reader makes an often overlooked point about Obama:

Obama isn't the first credible African-American candidate so much as he's the first credible Hawaiian candidate.  Everything that's essential and appealing about him is Hawaiian in character, and reflects his years growing up there.  People in Hawaii don't fixate on race, because everyone is mixed race, individually or by marriage, and they don't think in terms of political party, because that's at best a secondary characteristic; and above all, they don't think in terms of traditional left/right, red/blue polarities-- those are for the mainland.  Hawaii is a place where conservative evangelical Christians are Asian and Polynesian, and the secular liberals are white and not quite local; where "black" isn't even a common category, because African-Americans are so rare; where liberal Democrats revere military service, largely because a lot of Hawaii's political leaders are veterans of the legendary all-Japanese 442nd Infantry, starting with Medal of Honor winner Dan Inoyue. In Hawaii, ideological stances are looked at with huge skepticism, because they imply pretension and putting on airs-- or as it's said there, "Hey brah, no act!"

The key to understanding Obama isn't race, or Kennedy, or any of that: the key is Hawaii.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

What Advice Would You Give to Adults?

"If you have a problem, go meditate or go on a vacation. Don't think about it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

Just In