A fight for democracy is unfolding in Hong Kong — a fight many involved consider a fight for life or death.
More than a million people in Hong Kong marched peacefully against an extradition bill June 9, according to the Washington Post. Two months later, protesters took over the Hong Kong airport Aug. 12; the police reacted with force. Each subsequent protest has been met with increasing force from the Hong Kong Police, and the protesters have risen to meet it.
This fight for democracy may seem distant and irrelevant; however, it provides a call to reflect on our own democracy and ensure we acknowledge just how valuable it is.
The brutally long protest, spanning four months now, shows no signs of wavering and stems from the initial reaction to the proposed amendments to the Hong Kong extradition law. Hong Kong’s government proposed an amendment in February which would enable extradition from Hong Kong to Mainland China.
Seen as another move in a long game of chess by Chinese President Xi Jinping to chip away at Hong Kong’s independence, protesters organized to stop the legislation from passing.
As a result of the protests, the Hong Kong Government decided to indefinitely suspend the legislation. The people of Hong Kong viewed this decision as an attempt to simply delay the legsilation’s passage however, and the protests continued.
Outside of the legislation, the Hong Kong government coined the peaceful protests as riots, resulting in 10 years of prison for anyone arrested while protesting, according to Business Insider. Alongside a demand from the Hong Kong people to stop calling their protests riots so the government can’t simply arrest and silence them, the people are calling for universal suffrage. As of now, the Chinese government in Beijing selects the leaders the people of Hong Kong can vote for to hold office in the Hong Kong government.
History lesson and recent event recap aside, the protests in Hong Kong show just how valuable democracy is and exactly why we need to ensure we value it.
With election season right around the corner, we need to make the most of our democracy, both through valuing it and protecting it. While our democracy certainly isn’t facing the same daunting threat Hong Kong’s is facing, it’s always at risk of slipping through our fingers like sand on a beach.
One example is the GOP preemptively canceling caucuses and primaries. A Politico article reported that South Carolina, Kansas, Nevada and Arizona are slated to not hold their primaries/caucuses.
This stifles the voice of republicans wanting to push for a republican candidate other than President Donald Trump and hinders our democracy.
Faithless electors pose a problem for democracy as well. CBS news reported in 2016, the year of the last presidential election that took place, seven electors were faithless and voted for a candidate opposite of the popular vote in their district.
These are just a couple of example areas where our democracy is slipping, and while they don’t compare to what the people of Hong Kong face, we need to act now to prevent the issue from getting any worse.
The Hong Kong conflict may feel distant and irrelevant, but it serves as a warning to ensure we keep our own democracy in check — a warning we shouldn’t ignore.