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Web Exclusive: A Honolulu Tea Party


Photos: David Croxford

If Oahu’s Tax Day Tea Party goers had an anthem, it would be Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Take it, they did not. More than 2,500 protesters—from businessmen, teenagers and retired veterans, to Senate and House legislators, gathered at the State Capitol rotunda to oppose increases in state taxes, federal bailouts, state and federal pork barrel spending. Some even protested President Obama’s administration and Democrats in general. The list was long. Many also carried signs, some reading: “Don’t tax me bro!,” “The real pirates are in Congress,” and “Read my lipstick: No new taxes.”

“We’re here to educate and raise awareness about income taxes,” says Luke Kim, the co-founder of Restore the Republic Hawaii, a fledgling organization hoping for less government intervention. “The government is printing money out of thin air, [which] raises the cost of our goods and services.”
“It’s our duty as Americans to be here,” says Jack de Feo, Kim’s organization partner. “Freedom is not a spectator sport.” Kim and de Feo are also members of restoretherepublic.net.
Kim said he’d like to see the IRS abolished, but until then, will continue to pay his taxes. “They’re like bullies, of course you’re going to pay; they have guns and prisons. If I had the resources to fight the IRS, I would.”
Tax Day Tea Party organizers had a petition to fight tax increases on hand and gave out T-shirts with the slogan “Revolution is brewing.” Tax Day Tea Party is a national grassroots effort in favor of a free-market system to “protest against out-of-control government spending,” according to www.taxdayteaparty.com. Today saw more than 600 tea parties nationwide, with multiple cities participating in each state. Hawaii also had two rallies each on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.
Honolulu’s tea party received the full support from GOP members of the Legislature, with several House Republican members speaking, as well as Joe Pandolfe. Hawaii’s incarnation of Joe the Plumber, Pandolfe is known as Regular Joe (although he’s a contractor, not a plumber). Pandolfe organized Oahu’s tea party after feeling disillusioned with big government spending and financial bailouts. “When a government heads toward socialism, you get fascism, then anarchy.” He then got the crowd chanting “USA, USA,” and “Drill Baby Drill,” a cheer from Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. 
Not everyone in attendance were hard-working middle class citizens like Regular Joe, some were teenagers. Take home schoolers, Ryan McDonald and Lanson Hoopai. Both are only 14 years old, but know more about politics than the average American. Dressed as prisoners with balls and chains on their ankles, McDonald and Hoopai declared they were “prisoners of fiscal child abuse.”

“Because of these taxes, by the time we get older we’ll be the ones paying for it. We want to increase awareness of what the government is spending freely,” says McDonald, who has testified before legislative committees as well as starting Generation Joshua, a group devoted to teaching other people their age about “Godly Republican ways.”
Although the two don’t even fill out their own tax returns yet, Hoopai said the burden has already begun. “We still have to pay taxes every time we buy something at the store,” he says.
McDonald and Hoopai weren’t the only ones in a costume to make a political statement. Others painted their faces red, white and blue (still more waved mini American flags, a few even waving Don’t Tread on Me flags). One attendee dressed up as Uncle Sam, others, in colonial-era dress with white powdered wigs.
At one point, a man dressed in a pig costume who spoke in mocking support of pork barrel spending and government bailouts. “I need the money, my friends need the money,” he says.
The crowd loudly booed him. They’re not gonna take it.


For more on taxes and the Tax Day Tea Party, see A. Kam Napier's April Editor's page and his Off My Desk blog entry.

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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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