When Hawai‘i lawmaker Beth Fukumoto swore allegiance to represent the Republican Party as House Minority Floor Leader in 2012 she could not have been more proud. As the youngest Hawai‘i politician to serve in her position, she had a lot to live up to.
Five years later, Fukumoto was voted out of her GOP position due to speaking out against Donald Trump’s rhetoric concerning women and minorities at the Hawai‘i Women's March.
Despite her actions, Fukumoto deserves to be celebrated for speaking against her own party members who are supporting Trump’s misogyny and racism. To oust her as a traitor was uncharacteristic and shameful.
Morality over popularity
Fukumoto's alienation began when she first spoke out against then presidential candidate Donald Trump. In May 2016 at the state's Republican convention, Fukumoto's colleagues condemned her critiques of Trump.
“I got booed for about 10 minutes straight for raising concerns about President Trump, then nominee Trump, and the way he treated women and minorities in many of his remarks. I, at the time, had said this is not, this should not reflect our party,” Fukumoto told KHON2.
Prior to the election, people from both political parties had expressed their concerns over Donald Trump becoming president – listing sexism, racism and dishonesty as a few of his unpleasant traits.
“Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said after hearing Trump’s disturbing remarks about grabbing women by their vaginas.
“I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
Later when candidate Trump became President Trump, Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin denounced Trump’s indiscretion on Mexican minorities and the Muslim travel ban during a conference in March.
“This is the first time that a president has made such a broad, sweeping kind of executive order that bans people purely based upon their nationality,” Chin said.
The same broken morality was a key issue in Fukumoto’s speech at the Women’s March in January that led to the loss of her position as House Minority Leader.
“A man won the White House with anger and hate, and our kids watched it happen. Now, it's our jobs to make sure they watch us fight back.”
Former party was in the wrong
For the Hawai‘i Republican party to kick Fukumoto out of the seat was a huge mistake. She recognized and voiced the issues in her House party and in the president that were in need of improvement. Instead, members of the party reached out in anger – an unwise response on their part.
"You are speaking not for yourself anymore,” Republican Rep. Bob McDermott told Fukumoto while he and several other colleagues criticized her for speaking against her own party. “It is a high-level responsibility. But if all you do is attack your own party ... ”
Fukumoto made one of the wisest decisions of her career and announced in March that she would be joining the Democratic Party in order to continue serving the people of Hawai‘i.
If they welcome her into the party, Hawai‘i Democrats will have gained yet another supportive ally during these tense political times. While several Hawai‘i Democratic representatives are hesitant to welcome Fukumoto on board, some are more than willing to give her a chance.
However, Fukumoto is not responsible for being ousted by her own party. It was her own convictions that allowed her to speak out, regardless of possible backlash, against those who have become blindsided by injustice.
Her Republican GOP associates may think she was in the wrong to denounce President Trump, but Fukumoto was right to not sacrifice her morals for the sake of popularity.