Does Courage In Politics Still Matter In America

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There are numerous occasions throughout ones political career, which presents the opportunity to impress a cynical public, to reach deep inside the public's repository of ill will specially reserved for a profession few understand or can relate to. Consequently, once afforded the opportunity to exhibit any form of inspiration, there remains a responsibility to do so. To that end, it appears the public and party faithful alike are often left wholly disappointed. For reasons that emerge shallow, with little regard to substance, politicians at times defy logic, and the obvious, by acting in a manner contrary to reason or sound judgment. Some years ago I was introduced to a book that presented extraordinary examples of political and moral courage, and which has guided my belief in politics and democracy over the course of my involvement at a party level. I often leaf through the well-worn pages when exposed to week or undeserving political leadership. Not surprisingly the events in America (and at times in Canada) over the past year have caused a review of the entire book, front to back.

To enhance my argument I would present to each of our leaders, respectfully, the notion that "we-the- people" expect exceptional moral and political courage from each of them. We should reinforce the notion that a political organizations strength remains within its volunteers, structure and governance through to the elected members, not the reverse. Every political party at some point faces a crossroad, the successful of them recognize when they are there. If political history has taught us anything, it surely is that the ones who take the ostrich-approach eventually fail to exist. We have the tools and the talent, and, at this place, and at this time, we must only support candidates with the deep moral and political courage. History will judge the coming year to be sure. However, the outcome we choose will set us on a course of discovery and reinvention as a nation or potential irrelevance in the eyes of our naysayers. Many, including historians will, when all is said and done, point to this time as the defining legacy of all political parties' and politicians alike. They will talk with fondness and not a little bewilderment of our choices, or they will speak in enviable tones of our good judgment and courage. These words, written a half century ago, are as powerful and relevant today as any time in political history. For many of us, this statement resonates to our core and reveals a painful and overlooked truth. From my humble perspective within this still-relevant movement, it is no longer acceptable to wish for our savior to appear gift-wrapped and riding in on a white horse. We must raise our expectations significantly and demand 'powerful' leadership from each of our representatives. No sub-par performances, no status quo, no deals to ensure political longevity or importance. Because of previous gladness.

No one seemed particularly worried about Xu. I spoke to an eight-year veteran of the gym, a plump and genial man surnamed Wang, who happened to work for CCTV, the state broadcaster. Wang said that while he did not support the violence, he was fundamentally sympathetic to Xu’s quest. "Otherwise, young people will continue to believe in these fakes," he said. When I entered Xu’s office he glanced at me conspiratorially and motioned me over to look at an icon on his phone. It was a VPN. I asked him why, after abstaining for so long, he had finally started using one. He told me recent events had caused him to conclude he would never be on the right side of the law in China, no matter what he did. Not long after he signed the contract to fight Wang Zhenling, his 18th tai chi grandmaster, relevant authorities informed him that the match, or any future matches, would not be allowed to take place. "What makes me angry," he added, "is that I’ve been very careful. Everything I’ve said has been true. If I had been lying to people, sure, I can accept punishment. But I’ve said nothing wrong.

As someone who has been living and reporting in China for five years, I was caught off guard by Xu’s belief in the power of truth and sincerity. Such a belief is something that’s become almost impossible to hold onto in China, where the truth has long since ceased to matter. The week I went to meet Xu at his gym, the Party had pivoted its policy toward coverage of the Hong Kong protests from the usual program of suppression to an all-out disinformation campaign. State media organs blared with reports of protester violence and a secret CIA plot. These reports left out the disproportionate brutality being inflicted by the Hong Kong police, and that a protestor had lost an eye to a bean bag round. In a matter of seconds I watched him transform from the laconic, somewhat sullen man I had just interviewed into the charismatic personality I recognized from Hot Takes. He talked without pause for the next 45 minutes, weaving together a pocket history of MMA with heavy doses of autobiographical narrative and thoughts on everything from Bruce Lee to yoga.