Today is election day! Just 4 months ago, I announced that I was running for Congress, and it all comes down to this day. Please vote, but before you do, let me tell you what brought me here.
A year and a half ago, I stood up on a podium at the Hawaii Women’s March, nervous that my speech wasn’t exciting enough. Much has been written about that speech, including remarks that I made against Donald Trump – and I stand by them. But, the most important part of that speech got lost in the mix.
I stood up there on that day to say that my 8-year-old niece, who has campaigned with me since she was 2, stood with me in a ballroom full of people who booed me for refusing to endorse Donald Trump. I said she watched a woman treated unfairly and held to a different standard in a Presidential race. I said I was afraid it taught her that bullies win.
My message on that day was that we needed to fight back – not with hate – but with kindness and respect. Today, I’m still afraid that message is getting lost, and that’s why I think it’s so important elect someone who can look past the headlines of the day to a better future for our little girls who need to grow up in a world where they believe they can be anything.
Win or lose, this election here in Hawaii will be looked back on as one where female candidates faced struggles that their male opponents did not. I’ve personally encountered biases in the media and other places that have held me back, and I hope to someday be able to talk about that for the benefit of other women who encounter the same setbacks.
And, I hope today voters will decide to vote for the candidate they want, not for the candidate they’ve been told will win. Voters decide elections – not pundits or the media or celebrities or big donors.
For now, I want you to know this – I will keep fighting to make sure we build a state where girls look at women in politics and believe they can hold a position of leadership. I want little girls to grow up in a world where they will be treated fairly, where they won’t face unfair standards, and they will be taken just as seriously as the men in their fields.
Two weeks ago, I held a Women’s Roundtable Discussion, and one media outlet broke the silence of other local media on issues facing women to cover the discussion. I talked with women who were turned down for business loans because of their gender, who’ve been disregarded as a female doctor by their patients, and who feel they have to hide pieces of themselves to fit in male-dominated fields. And we agreed whole-heartedly to work together for change.
I’ve also met men on this campaign who want to make change. Men who are committed to making life better for their daughters (and their sons).
There is so much more work to do to make Hawaii better for our kids. And, I hope I will have your vote so I can continue to do that work, to fight for Hawaii in Congress, and serve as an example for every little girl in this state who has big dreams.
This election was never about me. It is about protecting a place that I love. It’s about greater opportunities for the people and communities that I love. And, it’s about every little girl who watches elections and wonders if she’ll ever have a chance to be a leader.
I never expected that speech on that day to lead me here, but it has. And today, I hope you’ll vote “FUKUMOTO, Beth Keiko” for Congress and give me the opportunity to continue to be a voice for Hawaii.
Mahalo Nui Loa,