Mark Takai was born on July 1, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he earned a BA in Political Science in 1990 and a Masters in Public Health in 1993. Takai became a First Lieutenant in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 1999 and was promoted to the position of Lieutenant Colonel in 2013. Over the years, he has worked variously as a publications coordinator at the University of Hawaii, a public health educator for the Department of Health, a deputy state surgeon in the Hawaii Army National Guard, and the owner of Pacific First Health Solutions. Takai became active politically in 1994, when he launched a 20-year stint as a Democratic member of the Hawaii House of Representatives. In November 2014, the voters of Hawaii's 1st Congressional District elected Takai to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he promptly joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Takai was one of several House Democrats who, in advance of Pope Francis's highly anticipated visit to the U.S. in September 2015, appeared in a series of short videos asking the pontiff to publicly promote the Democrats' positions on issues like immigration reform, anti-poverty initiatives, and climate change. Takai, for his part, appeared in the climate-change production wherein Rep. Jan Schakowsky lamented that anthropogenic global warming “especially hurts lower income communities and the most vulnerable among us.”
On September 11, 2015, Takai announced his decision to support the highly controversial international agreement that the “P5+1” nations (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) had recently signed with Iran in an effort to slow down that nation's nuclear-weapons program. Takai characterized the deal as “a consensus” that, “despite flaws,” represented “the best way to prevent a nuclear Iran.” While the agreement placed some temporary restrictions on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, it virtually guaranteed that the Iranians would be able to develop nuclear weapons within a decade or so. For details of the accord's provisions, click here.
Asserting that “it is time we take action now to protect our aina [earth in the Hawaiian language] for the future of our keiki [children in the Hawaiian language]” by “increasing our use of renewable energy sources, cutting emissions, and implementing greater sustainability practices,” Takai in December 2015 applauded the “historical” Climate Agreement that negotiators from 180+ countries had recently negotiated in Paris. In that accord, the signatories submitted voluntary plans to mitigate their respective nations' carbon emissions and laid the groundwork for an international carbon cap-and-trade marketplace where those emissions could be taxed. As journalist Joseph Klein explained, “[The deal] is based on the redistributionist notion of 'climate justice' or 'equity,' which casts the developed countries as the source of the problem of alleged man-made climate change, and the developing countries as the innocent victims.... [I]t is the developed countries that must bear the real … responsibility to substantially cut their own emissions on an accelerated timetable. And it is the developed countries who are legally bound to pay for whatever voluntary steps the developing countries decide to take to reduce their emissions over time ...”
Takai's most significant political positions were shaped by his belief that:
- there should be no restrictions placed on the right of women to undergo taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy;
- private businesses should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, in an effort to increase the representation of those demographics in the workplace;
- the scope of Obamacare should be expanded until the ultimate objective of a government-run, single payer system is achieved;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools should be opposed because they soak up resources that could otherwise have gone to the public education system;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably mean more crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- wealthy individuals should be subject to much higher tax rates than people in lower income brackets;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to government bailouts of those entities; and
- to counteract the deleterious environmental effects of fossil-fuel combustion, the federal government should undertake a multi-pronged approach that includes the imposition of carbon taxes and the raising of CAFE standards for American-made automobiles. (The latter is a practice that has compromised the structural integrity of many vehicles and has led directly to the deaths of thousands of drivers each year.)
For an overview of Takai's voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
Takai died of pancreatic cancer on July 20, 2016.