Constant moving of goal posts breaks public trust

This commentary was published originally in the Fall 2021 edition of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s donor newsletter. 

When COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the planet early last year, the popular slogan was “We’re all in this together.” 

Now, after 18 months of being under a so-called state of emergency, calls for solidarity — however superficial— have given way to an uglier, more divisive climate.

As Hawaii’s government imposes a new wave of restrictions, many have pointed to particular segments of our population as the reason for the reimplementation. Those who express opposition to vaccine mandates or other restrictions are labeled “science-deniers” or conspiracy theorists. 

One local writer likened those who express concern for mandates to a “toddler complaining about having to eat vegetables before they get their ice cream.” 

While there is certainly no shortage of questionable information on the internet, one thing that is not a conspiracy is that our elected officials have walked back on their promises to open up at certain benchmarks and moved the goal posts time and time again. 

To use the aforementioned writer’s analogy, our government is like a parent who promises ice cream to their children if they just take one more bite of their vegetables. Except, the ice cream never comes. 

There is no consensus among those who call Hawaii home on the topic of vaccines or government restrictions and mandates. And even liberty-minded individuals may sometimes disagree on the specifics of the coronavirus mandates and appropriate role of government. 

But one thing we should be able to agree on is that government officials have a responsibility to earn the trust of those they govern and follow through on their commitments. There is nothing conspiratorial about reflecting on the performance of our elected officials and questioning whether they’ve truly earned our confidence. 

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