Seattle, Hong Kong of America

6 min readJun 26, 2021

Hong Kong used to enjoy a great deal of local autonomy from mainland China. It was a bastion of democracy (the rule of the people by the people). But Chinese imperialism would not tolerate that kind of freedom.

In America we take for granted that we live in a democracy. To some extent this is true. The people elect their representatives. But this is only one dimension of democracy. The other dimension is the right to introduce new ideas and change the system. Unfortunately ordinary people have no way of doing that on state and federal levels. The only place where we can introduce change is on the local level of our cities and towns. But even on that level, some organization is required. Disorganized people are condemned to being ruled and told what to do regardless of who they elect. The established system runs the show and claims for itself the exclusive right to do so. In our democracy there are a lot of autocratic controls that undermine our democratic freedoms.

If we let the national system control our local governments, we cannot say that we are free to govern ourselves. To a great extent, our cities and towns’ autonomy is limited like that of Hong Kong. The big difference is that the people of Hong Kong are aware of the imperialism of their national system, but the people of Seattle are not. In China, new laws had to be introduced to control Hong Kong. In America, there is no need for new laws. The existing system subordinates our cities and towns to its existing laws. It is true that our laws are less openly oppressive, but the fact remains that the freedom of our cities and towns to govern themselves is limited. Everything they do must comply with state and federal law. They are free to act provided they agree to wear a straightjacket that limits their moves. This is what we want to change. We need less uniformity and greater diversity. Let there be cities that collaborate with the Feds, and cities that don’t.

The Ninth Amendment gives the people a great deal of local autonomy from state and federal governments. But this is a complicated question. We’ll discuss it later together with the Tenth Amendment. Those two amendments were written by the same hand. They amend the Constitution by restricting the centralized powers if the federal government and expanding local powers.

A lesson in democracy

Democracy walks on two legs. The first one is the right to vote. The second leg is the right to introduce new initiatives that can produce…


Born in Syria. Grew up in Lebanon. Spent 18 years in the Jesuit Order. Quit and got married. Retired in Seattle.