Political coconut launching ~ hitting real people’s livelihoods instead

The Republicans and Democrats have long used escape and paradise to clobber one another, sometimes joining forces to lance a particularly malignant personality (think Gary Hart and the yacht named Monkey Business). Having a Democratic President from Hawaii has been both a blessing and a curse for those who want to use the state as a punching bag to swing at Obama. But what about the real people from Hawaii and other tropical places who find themselves mocked by these attacks?

John Oliver of the Daily Show proved once again just how easy it is to hit at politicians through satire, pointing out their supposed hypocrisy. No other clip better sums up the role that paradise can play in politics. The importance of Oliver’s piece is not that it lobs coconuts at Republicans, which I might be inclined to scold him for, but rather that it artfully ricochets the ones that they originally threw at the Democrats:

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RNC Meeting in Hawaii
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As accessibility to paradisiacal places went mainstream during that last two booms (most likely stimulated by the credit bubble), tropical places have become more and more common in politics. Beyond the RNC’s Waikiki meeting mentioned in the video above, there are the pol-celeb cruises.

One of the biggest worries about the presumably final collapse of Air America Radio was whether or not the Progressive Voices Cruise scheduled for March 2010 would go on. There was also the recent Tea Party cruise, which attracted “more than a hundred conservative and Tea Party activists” according to CNN.

No matter where your support lies, it’s clear to most that hosting conferences in Hawaii is a great way to get things done with a backdrop of sunshine. The IRS subtracts out Hawaiian business expenses in the same way that it does Minnesota expenses, so why not? In many cases, the cost to travel to and stay in Hawaii is not necessarily that much more than cities like New York and Boston. Yes, admittedly, the carbon footprint of some of the participants would be higher. However, the cultural insinuations, as pointedly documented by John Oliver, are the real reason to avoid such trips.

The only issue is that a place like Hawaii is hurting as much, if not more, from the recession than most of the rest of the United States. Its economy relies on the basic-sector output of much of the rest of the world. If ever there were a time for relatively prosperous people to go to Hawaii, it is now when stays are much cheaper and the people Hawaiians need the economic activity.

The paradisiacal din in politics proves one point: the vast majority of Americans really do see Hawaii as an ideal and exotic place that should not be accessible, and especially not populated, by ordinary people. But it is, and we should be careful about attacking a state just because the weather is so nice. We’re batting around people’s livelihoods, not beating up politicians, who have mastered this sport over decades-long careers.

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Posted on February 11, 2010
Filed Under Islands, Medium to Paradise, Politics | Leave a Comment


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