TO: STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (SCC)
DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HAWAIʻI (DPH)
FROM: DYLAN ARMSTRONG, MEMBER, DISTRICT 11
September 3, 2021
OPPOSING RESOLUTION: “ENCOURAGING MEMBERS & THE PUBLIC TO GET VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19”
I appreciate the intent of the resolution. The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge of our lives after climate change. I've been an emergency manager for COVID-19 since January 27, 2020. I’ve worked behind closed-doors with the Governor, Mayors, and the West Coast’s senior leadership.
However, the SCC should oppose this resolution. First, after 8 months, a late-in-the-game eﬀort won’t work on polarized citizens. Second, it’s not appropriate for a political party to make COVID vaccines their spectacle while people die, en masse. Republicans did that, and deserve nothing but contempt. COVID is the hell we live in. Politicization and misinformation built it. This resolution further politicizes COVID. It doesn’t move us back towards the way of life that was taken from us.
Here’s why. We know that most anti-vaxxers are Jill Stein-, Donald Trump-, or not-at-all- voters. The public is likely to “dig in their heels” against a partisan vaccine message as one anti-vaxxer who learned the error of her ways, the hard way, put it. The DPH is in no position of authority with these people. They don’t trust us; we didn’t earn their trust. As DPH’s botched endorsement of the non-partisan Honolulu Mayoral race shows, the public can call our bluﬀ. Don’t give them the chance.
Higher principles must guide us, not external validation’s false comforts. It’s great that the First Lady and other powerful people have smiled on us. But our people here are unemployed, afraid, and hurting. We must be more concerned about being behind the little people than the powerful, and should do outward-facing things the right way, for the right reasons.
Because what we shouldn’t do is make this about ‘Democrats vaccinate, Republicans don’t,’ playing into the right's message that vaccination is a party-line issue. That further confuses public health messaging on COVID-19, and supports extremist arguments.
It’s also going to be a Public Relations nightmare to claim that we’re the pro-vaccine party, but elect as Vice Chair an anti-vaccine activist. See how doctors view her public anti-vaccine stance. To say one thing and do another is cognitive dissonance. We have a duty to elect pro-science leaders, but some of our elected Democrats protest with anti-vaxxers. Simply put, this makes us liars or hypocrites. I don’t have anything against the candidate for Vice Chair, personally. However, we can’t be hypocrites with who we elect and what we say. I’ll never vote for anti-vaxxers. Having principles demands as much. The Vice Chair sits on the DPH Executive Committee—it’s not a figurehead position. Is it conceivable that our current Chair could ever resign, and she become an Acting Chair?
To summarize, we should vote no on this resolution. We have to clean our own house first.
What we could do is this. First, limit this resolution’s audience to party members and not make a public display out of it. The elected recipients of this resolution already support vaccines. Second, consider a resolution broadly supporting all public health, in totality. We need distinctly diﬀerent messaging for party members, versus for the public. Third, and finally, let’s hold our own DPH accountable on vaccines before we start trumpeting our moral righteousness to the public.