A Pathway to Peace

A Pathway to Peace

For nearly a year Hong Kong has been facing a growing number of seemingly insurmountable challenges. A U.S.- China trade war, an ongoing stream of anti-government protests, and a global pandemic have all pushed Hong Kong’s economy and political stability closer and closer to the cliff’s edge. Like many of you, I have grown rather pessimistic and can no longer state with absolute certainty that this will all pass, that our lives will soon get to catch even a glimpse of normality. However, I refuse to believe that there is no path forward, that Hong Kong will inevitably meet a disastrous end. There is a way out for Hong Kong; it all comes down to how willing people are to put their differences aside and compromise. In my view, Hong Kong will find the peace it desperately needs as long as the following conditions are met:

Anti-government movement

  1. They must cease all forms of violence at once. This approach is not only utterly anti-democratic, but it also polarizes a society whose divisions cannot be stretched any further.
  2. They must peacefully raise their concerns about Beijing’s policies, but never take their anger out on law-abiding Mainland citizens. Targeting mainlanders simply because of their origin will only perpetuate the conflict. We all become better citizens (and better people) when we embrace diversity.
  3. They must uphold true democratic values. In a democracy, factions cannot hope to impose their will at all costs. Virtually by definition, democracies strive to integrate different viewpoints. Protesters need to accept that there are people out there who don’t share their ideology.
  4. They must look into the future and never into the past. Reminiscing about Hong Kong’s colonial past is not only foolish but it also undermines the movement’s supposed democratic character; there is nothing democratic about being a colony. Hongkongers will prevail as long as they fight for what this city can be, not for what it once was.

Governments of Hong Kong and China

  1. They must actively listen to the people’s demands. Most observers will agree that the conflict’s origins largely emanate from a widespread lack of trust, and this lack of trust is nothing but the result of the city’s and China’s failure to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition. The government is not required to give in to every single demand, but it has the moral obligation to address the opposition’s anxieties for the sake of Hong Kong’s stability.
  2. Regarding the nation’s symbols and identity, they must educate, not impose. Under the “one country, two systems” framework, it is legitimate for the governments of Hong Kong and China to pursue any piece of legislation aimed at consolidating China’s national identity. However, punishing those who believe that the flag and anthem don’t represent them is an act of futility that will only drive people further away from China.
  3. They must offer solutions. Carrie Lam’s biggest failure has been her inability to propose a path forward for Hong Kong. After nearly a year of political instability and economic recession, the Chief Executive’s plan for the city remains unclear.
  4. They must be bold. As of today, the most unlikely solution to the conflict is also the most effective and politically powerful: China should commit to “one country, two systems” beyond the 2047 deadline or maybe even indefinitely. Unlike what many skeptics believe, this framework has brought much progress to both China and Hong Kong. The perceived inadequateness of the system is merely the result of its mistaken association with the opposition’s grievances. Although not completely unfounded, their fears have largely emerged as a result of not knowing what China has planned for Hong Kong beyond 2047. A written, legally-binding commitment on the part of Beijing to keeping the current system in place permanently would undoubtedly send a strong, positive message to the people of Hong Kong.

Western governments, media, and other foreign interests

  1. They must show respect for China’s political process. As a sovereign nation, China has the right to rule over its territory however it pleases. Foreign interference would only be appropriate if there was clear, tangible evidence that China’s policies towards Hong Kong were detrimental to human rights.
  2. They must steer away from misinformation. Western media outlets have spent nearly a year telling the world one side of the story. By ignoring street violence and the doxing many have suffered for speaking out against the anti-government movement, Western media outlets have whitewashed the movement’s most radical elements and deliberately constructed an image of Hong Kong that does not fully correspond to the city’s reality.
  3. They must stop viewing Hong Kong as simply a tool to gain political leverage. Today, the dreams and aspirations of millions of Hongkongers are being threatened as foreign actors consider targeting the city’s economic engines in order to pressure the central government. In doing so, however, they seem to ignore the sheer size of the Chinese economy and the fact that the only victims of a foreign crackdown on the city’s economy will be the people of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has proven to be quite resilient, but the city cannot be embroiled in a permanent state of crisis. The people of Hong Kong must band together for peace.

Republicans + Woke

Republicans + Woke

“Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” Millions of Americans were forced to live by these words during the 1930s. The Great Depression swept across the country like an unforgiving force. Millions became jobless while many others went hungry. Kitchen soups and bread lines became common sights in every major city; the nation was on the brink of collapse.

For those who witnessed the country’s incredible growth during the 1920s, the stock market crash of 1929 was nothing more than an inconceivable nightmare. While the U.S. had experienced market downturns in the past, nobody expected the widespread devastation that the Great Depression would cause. 

In their time of need, Americans of every stripe understood the necessity for renewed leadership. Something had gone horribly wrong and it was now the government’s responsibility to ensure that the people of this country aren’t forced to endure such hardships ever again. That unified desire for change resulted in the rise of one of America’s most influential political figures: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A Democrat, FDR is the only president in American history to have served four consecutive terms in office (he died in 1945 while serving his fourth term). Considered by historians one of the three greatest U.S. presidents (the other two being George Washington and Abe Lincoln), FDR redefined the role of the federal government in ways that, I would argue, remain unmatched.

Aware of the tremendous pain the Great Depression was inflicting on American families, especially on older Americans, the Roosevelt administration set off to implement one of the nation’s most ambitious policy agendas in history: the New Deal. Forgotten by many young Americans today, the New Deal proved very successful at curbing the very negative effects of the crisis. It included numerous programs intended to support rural America, the unemployed, the young, and the elderly. The Public Works Administration or the Works Progress Administration, for example, led to the creation of countless job opportunities and helped lift thousands of Americans out of poverty. But perhaps FDR’s New Deal is better remembered for giving rise to one of America’s most popular government programs: Social Security.

The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935, creating the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Colloquially known as Social Security, the OASDI program became the first government program to target the many challenges faced by American retirees, although it also provided benefits for widowed and disabled citizens. Prior to the creation of Social Security, old Americans had to rely on their savings or on family support to make ends meet after retirement. But the Great Depression had severely severed those two lifelines, leaving them without a dependable source of income. Today, millions of retired Americans continue to view their Social Security benefits as an important source of economic security in their old age.

FDR’s unwavering commitment to helping the poor and those in need resonated with his party, and for over forty years the Democratic Party became a resolute advocate for justice and for equality. It wasn’t easy, but progress towards a stronger, less unequal society was made. In 1965, as part of his war on poverty, Lyndon B. Johnson picked up where FDR left off and launched Medicare and Medicaid, thus creating the country’s first national health insurance programs. Today these programs provide health and financial security to nearly 100 million Americans.

At this point you may be wondering why I decided to revisit a chapter of American history most of you are already well aware of. Here is my answer: Our public discourse seems to have fallen victim of increasingly nasty and ill-informed attacks, so I thought it would be quite educational to look back and reflect on this country’s not-so-distant past, a past when so-called “socialist” policies were all the rage. Because let’s face it, folks, this country is drowning in socialism. Every single policy I laid out in this post is an example of a socialist policy. And there is more, of course. K-12 and even your nearest fire department are also examples of socialism in America.

For over forty years, the Democratic Party was a champion of such policies. They cared for the poor. They believed in a more equal society. But not anymore. Today, the Democratic Party is not all that different from the Republican Party. Why do you think the Democratic Party has been running on identity / woke politics for the past twenty years? Because they don’t have anything else to offer. Their economic agenda is the GOP’s agenda.

As I stated in my previous post, the Democratic Party seems to have reached the conclusion that Joe Biden is the best candidate to run against Donald Trump in November. The moment the party understood that Bernie had the resources and voter enthusiasm to secure the nomination, they put together a campaign strategy that will make political history. In a matter of days, endorsements of Biden and opinion pieces trashing Bernie Sanders have piled up like dominoes, seriously wounding the self-described democratic socialist and very likely putting the final nail in the coffin for his historic campaign.

Bernie Sanders is often demonized for not being a true Democrat, and it is no secret that the Democratic establishment has come down hard on Sanders because they believe he poses a serious threat to the party’s identity and future. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sanders is no threat to the party. In fact, Sanders and his movement are the embodiment of what the Democratic Party represented for the better part of half a century. A party that did not shy away from challenging the status quo. A party that understood that widespread poverty and inequality were the true enemies of the nation’s overall well-being and stability.

Whether or not Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, his message is here to stay. Now it is up to those who believe in that message to bring decency, humanity, ambition, and hope back into the Democratic Party, and to carry on FDR’s legacy.