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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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It could be easily forgotten in today’s hyper-partisanship, but in years gone by there were issues upon which Democrats and Republicans could agree.
This was particularly true when it came to promoting democracy and free elections around the world.
So it was a bit of a hopeful glimmer of times past when the House passed by vote of 417 to 1 and the Senate by unanimous consent, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
The measure aims to support the pro-democracy movement out in force in Hong Kong.
But instead of celebrating a rare bipartisan win for democracy and human rights, we have to lament the lone barrier to this legislation becoming law, and that of course would be the occupant of the Oval Office, Donald Trump.
Regardless of the fact that his fellow Republicans overwhelmingly support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, Trump has made noises of threatening to veto the bill when it reaches his desk.
And Trump’s rationale is, shall we say, less than compelling.
He would prefer, for one, to sublimate the desire of the denizens of Hong Kong for basic rights and freedom to his ongoing trade war and on-again, off-again trade negotiations with China.
I’m sorry, but the people of Hong Kong deserve better than taking a back seat to Trump’s incompetent economic policymaking.
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Trump would rather sacrifice the basic freedoms of a people rather than hurt the feelings of his “friend,” China’s autocrat Xi Jingping.
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi [Jinping],” Trump said during a call-in to Fox and Friends. “He’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy. … But I’d like to see them work it out. Okay? We have to see and work it out. But I stand with Hong Kong. I stand with freedom. I stand with all of the things that we want to do, but we also are in the process of making the largest trade deal in history. And if we could do that, that would be great.”
If Xi were as “incredible” as Trump claims, he would be the Chinese Mikhail Gorbachev and usher in a new era of freedom, rights and openness.
But he’s not.
Congress approved the legislation by such lopsided bipartisan majorities that, if Trump were to follow through with his veto threat, lawmakers could easily barrel right over him and approve the measure easily on a veto override.
Not only would that embarrass Trump, it would show once again, how truly out of step he is with real American values.
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