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How Democracy Works: A Good Example In Hong Kong

Nick Englehart

Posted on November 25, 2019 02:45

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Back in the 60s and 70s, it-ins led to bus boycotts, that led to marches. Each garnered influence. Each was a ripple that traveled and expanded and created greater change. Sometimes, that's how it works.

There were many supposed reasons to lose faith in the purity of Hong Kong’s protests. Protesters took bows and arrows and Molotov cocktails to the streets in defense of their democratic ideals. Chinese favorable media floated the idea that a silent majority lay quietly in their apartments as a struggle exploded each weekend on their streets. The Hong Kong Exchange dipped weekly and Xi Jingping continuously hinted at more, “unswerving efforts,” to end the unrest.

On Sunday a democratic ray of hope shined with a 71% voter turnout — 2.94 million people out of the 4.13 million eligible voters. "Early results compiled by the South China Morning Post showed pro-democracy parties winning 278 of the first 344 seats to be declared" reports Shibani Mahtani, Simon Denyer, Tiffany Liang and Anna Kam for the Washington Post. This is a clear statement from the citizens of Hong Kong that, when given the opportunity, they would participate in the process and uphold the beliefs they fought for every week. When protesters achieve their goals (especially in a democratic manner) it can be easy to forget why they’re important, even going so far as to ignore their impact.

Protests in the United States can be excessive. Topics range in importance from a goat for every person to the civil rights of a marginalized group. During the 60s and 70s protests were so numerous I began to lose track of who was angry about what. It was even more difficult to see how any of the protesting would transfer into real political change.

But a public school history class makes it clear. 25,000 people march on Selma, Alabama and six months later the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed into law. Mentioned, though rarely assigned value, are the actions of those at the beginning of a movement. Sit-ins led to bus boycotts, that led to marches. Each garnered influence. Each was a ripple that traveled and expanded and created greater change. Sometimes, that's how it works.

The Hong Kong protests began when China attempted to gain power over prisoner extradition, and they blossomed into an existential struggle for democracy. These protests seem to have started a month ago, but in reality they have been increasing in size and organization for six months. Because of the protests, “Hundreds of candidates chose to run due to the events of the last few months.” These were candidates who might otherwise not have run, but as supporters of democracy, and egged on by the actions of their fellow citizens, they were called to a life of public service.

I commend the United States Congress for its bipartisan resolution in support of the people of Hong Kong: a public declaration that reminds the world we stand with democracy, and will always support those who seek it. To accept any less, be it for economic, electoral, or personal gain, would be an affront to American values.

Nick Englehart

Posted on November 25, 2019 02:45

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Source: Reuters

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China wants to make a trade deal but it should treat Hong Kong "humanely" first,...

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