What can the average American citizen learn from the protests in Hong Kong?
Our American identity is based on a shared set of common beliefs including valuing liberty, a love of freedom, equality, and a government supportive of the well-being of ordinary people. The great American experiment is based on the idea that "all men are created equal" and that the state derives its powers from the people rather than a ruling aristocracy or elite.
The Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention formulated a system of government based on the principles of checks and balances. They fully understood the destructive nature of a tyranny and how it could develop or be avoided. Established was a Republican form of government based on the idea that elected representatives would have a primary duty to represent the political interests of their constituents.
The potential for an increasing concentration of power and the establishment of authoritarian elements and institutions in the country has always been on the minds of American political thinkers going back to the days of our Founding. Many of them were concerned that people and political institutions over the longer term are subject to corruption, active consolidation of power, and movement toward authoritarianism. They believed that an established government is in need of constant vigilance by the people.
America has survived national emergencies and profoundly troubling times throughout our history: the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the challenges of Nazism and communism and various other major threats. The U.S. Constitution has proven to be flexible and adaptable enough to endure for over two hundred years. Now our nation is at yet another critical crossroads as our governing values face profound threats from today's increasingly radical Democratic Party as well as other entrenched establishment elites of various types.
An overall national economic growth of less than 2.0% per year under President Obama was inadequate to increase the standard of living for the majority of Americans. This caused many to believe that America was destined to enter a period of long-term decline. Once a country united in so many ways, distinctive and troubling fault lines increased during the Obama years among different classes of people. Across our country before the Trump presidency, the poor were getting poorer, and the working and middle classes also paid a severe price, with their opportunity for better lives seemingly permanently diminished by Obama's progressive governing policies. It was also true under Obama that many of the rich were getting much richer, and various elites in selected states and areas, especially along the East and West Coasts of the U.S., prospered as never before.
In 2016, fault lines among various segments of our country emerged to a point that made the election of President Trump possible. Trump united himself with the interests of working- and middle-class Americans, and they came to the polls in sufficient numbers to make the difference and enabled him to be elected. The number-one priority of Trump voters was restoring American economic growth and prosperity. He leveraged both his celebrity status and his public track record as a successful businessman as the candidate who would actively fight for his constituents and place American national interests first in the conduct of his administration.
The Democrats have adopted a strategy since President Trump's election of resistance on all fronts and at any cost, without restraint or compromise of any sort. The Democrats are focused on one primary goal: to gain power by any means possible by conducting an orchestrated campaign of resistance to anything related to President Trump.
The mainstream media, the celebrity culture, academia, Big Tech, and the entertainment industry have joined together to promote the Democratic Party and an increasingly radical agenda of progressive policies while suppressing all others. Objective political truth is becoming a rare commodity as this increasingly powerful combination of elites in our country attempts to govern by deception and distortion. Our political system has evolved to a point where the well-being of the average citizen seems to no longer count or is a distraction to these elites; maintaining power and privilege has become their collective overriding objective.
Unfortunately, many prominent Republicans in power at a national level and several leading conservative thought leaders, institutions, and opinion-makers also have placed their own interests above those of ordinary citizens and have often opposed or provided only marginal and muted support for President Trump.
On the other hand, nearly 63 million people voted for Trump in 2016, and he has exceptionally high approval ratings, averaging above 90% support from Republican Party voters. The president also has created an enduring bond with his supporters that continues to be demonstrated by the highly enthusiastic and well attended turnouts for his political rallies.
A troubling question is this: when does the anger of his supporters joined by other concerned everyday American citizens, given today's increasingly poisonous political climate, reach a tipping point? Will a segment of the population decide to take escalated action of some sort, given the environment of continual daily assault against President Trump along with the foundations of our system of government? Americans are typically law-abiding people who go to work every day, have families, go about their daily lives, and are responsible citizens.
A similar set of circumstances were in effect in Hong Kong only several months ago.
A tipping point in Hong Kong was reached when proposed legislative amendments by the communist Chinese government allowed for extradition by the country's judicial authorities of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China. Many Hong Kong citizens realized that this was a significant action by the Chinese government to start to impose increasingly authoritarian rule over their traditionally democratically ruled city.
Since its escalation in June, the conflict in Hong Kong has evolved into extensive pro-democracy protests and civil unrest by such sheer numbers of the citizens as to overwhelm the authorities. Even with often brutal police action against the enormous mass of unarmed protesters, the civil disobedience remains organized, active, and undeterred to this day. Increased violence and an escalation in hostilities seem inevitable. There appears to be no possible reasonable resolution in sight for this conflict. On one side is a communist Chinese government that is intractable in its demands to impose its authoritarian style of rule over Hong Kong, while on the other side are large numbers of residents out in the streets for their freedom and to preserve the democratic Hong Kong system of government.
With the outbreak of these hostilities and seemingly no reasonable resolution possible, life for all citizens of Hong Kong will never be the same and likely will continue to be severely diminished. Will we be reaching our own tipping point soon, resulting in mass protests and civil unrest starting in our country? This is possible, as we most certainly live in increasingly dangerous political times. If action such as that in Hong Kong is taken here, will the quality of life for all also be severely diminished, resulting in our country never being the same again?
K.S. Guardiola blogs at "TheRightQuestions" at rightquestions.blog and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.