After years watching both major political parties in America foster public outrage to advance their political goals, someone recently commented that he was "out of outrage" -- totally over it.
Polling by Pew Research shows that he may not be alone. Nearly 40% of Americans say they wish they had more political parties to choose from, with that number rising to nearly 50% among younger Americans. Favorable views of either party come in approximately at a paltry 40%.
One problem appears to be the grandiose claims made by both parties that stoke partisan anger but fail to deliver the anticipated results. Consider the claims that have been made by politicians and others since the 2016 presidential election alone:
After years of asserting collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, the Durham Report and the Mueller probe both found that Russian collusion had been a hoax. Not only that, but that the people creating the hoax had known all along that the charges were false. More recently, on the right, explosive claims by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and Senator Chuck Grassley that an informant alleges tapes exist showing then-Vice President Joe Biden being bribed by Ukrainian businesspeople have not been substantiated — at least not yet.
Throw in the false claim, made by 51 former U.S. intelligence officials, that Hunter Biden's laptop "had all the earmarks" of Russian disinformation, as well as repeated assertions that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese wet market rather than in the Wuhan Institute of Virology -- despite early reported evidence of gene manipulation that is not "naturally-occurring" -- and one can see why Americans are fed up with questionable claims across the political spectrum and why there is a huge loss of confidence in our institutions and politicians.
This is a sizeable problem for our nation: when Americans need to find outrage the most, they may not be able to muster any. That challenge is particularly acute when it comes to our foreign policy and national security.
While an overwhelming majority of Americans view China negatively, the U.S. response to the COVID pandemic and other actions by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) directly targeting and threatening vital U.S. interests has been muted at best. Democrats join Republicans in the House of Representatives condemning China's spy balloon. With two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believing that COVID did indeed leak from a Chinese lab, one would expect to see a rallying cry from the left and right to unite factions in common cause to confront the CCP regime to force a change in its malign behavior.
Yet, there has been little movement beyond competing bills introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley to revoke the vote that granted China Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status in 2000 (Disclosure: as a Member of Congress, I voted against PNTR). The consensus political expectation at the time was that the CCP would be pressured by the opening of trade globally to become freer and more democratic and to align with the rules-based international order. Instead of becoming more like the U.S. and the West, it is obvious the China moved in the exact opposite direction.
Just look once again at COVID and the CCP's response to the pandemic. Recent analysis continues to bolster the case that the virus most likely did escape from the Wuhan laboratory. Despite the fact the Wuhan Institute of Virology was notionally civilian and received U.S. taxpayer funds from the National Institutes of Health, the Wuhan lab in reality was under control of the Chinese military.
China's communist government, from the beginning, was involved in a massive effort to hide the severity of the COVID threat. The CCP lied about its human-to-human transmissibility, and even about China being the origin of the virus. While the CCP lied to the world about COVID, it leveraged its coverup to stockpile personal protective equipment in China, and closed down domestic travel within China, "but pushed foreign travel." When other countries objected, China accused them of racism.
Despite COVID having killed more than 1.13 million Americans as of mid-June 2023, and with a cost to the U.S. economy estimated to be $14 trillion — yes trillion — by the end of 2023, where is the united outrage among American citizens over the role of the CCP in the pandemic? Besides death and economic carnage, the COVID pandemic unleashed by China also has had a huge negative psychological impact on millions of Americans and taken a massive toll on our children's education.
When it comes to human rights, China's record, unfortunately, is just as atrocious. The CCP continues to brutally persecute China's Uyghur minority. Uyghurs are prohibited from practicing their religion freely: a massive system has been set up where it is estimated that more than one million Uyghurs are forcibly detained. In these camps, Uyghurs face indoctrination, sterilization, and forced labor; meanwhile the Uyghur people in China are subject to mass surveillance. The situation is so horrific that both the Trump Administration and the Biden Administration have labeled it a genocide.
Then there is the brazen theft by the CCP of U.S. intellectual property (IP). The U.S. House of Representatives identified multiple examples of IP infringement affecting companies such as Dupont, Micron, and Akhan Semiconductor. The FBI estimates that from $225-$600 billion in IP is stolen from the U.S. every year, and not surprisingly this has long-term consequences for the U.S. economy and American workers. Often, it results in Chinese companies taking leading positions in industries and technologies that originated in the U.S. or would otherwise be based here if the Chinese did not use forced labor to provide goods and services. It is no wonder that that China's economy continues to grow faster than the U.S. economy — China shortcuts its research and development costs both by stealing IP from the U.S. and in effect using state-sanctioned slavery.
Consider, too, the CCP's aggressive military and espionage efforts against the U.S. in the last six months, some of the most sensitive military and nuclear sites in the U.S. were overflown by a Chinese spy balloon; it was revealed China has a secret spy base in Cuba and is planning a joint military training facility with the island nation that sits 100 miles off the U.S. coast.
The Justice Department announced in April that it arrested two people for operating an illegal Chinese police station in New York City. Although they been ordered to close, as of this writing there are reportedly "at least six more" in the U.S. Similarly, the CCP has not closed its Confucius Institutes, as requested, but instead, just renamed them.
Lastly, the CCP has also been sending across America's southern border groups of single men of military age, with the apparent aim of sabotaging American installations on the first day of a conflict if the U.S. tries to counter a Chinese offensive on Taiwan.
With all of these revelations and threatening activities, there seems to be dismayingly little concern from the public as well as from the political and business leadership (here, here, here and here), despite a growing plurality that views China as an enemy to the United States rather than as a strategic "competitor."
This lack of outrage is likely why senior Biden administration officials felt free to openly fight over who should be the first to go to China after Secretary of State Antony Blinken's initial visit was canceled. It is also probably why, on Blinken's recent visit to China, he only seemingly made passing reference to the CCP's human rights record; its role in the COVID pandemic coverup; its continued theft of U.S. intellectual property, and its aggressive military and intelligence stance against the U.S. Instead, the Biden Administration has focused on rapprochement and future talks, and U.S. businesses have promoted so-called "environmental, social and governance" issues here but have ignored -- and often enabled -- China's genocidal human rights record.
Also highly questionable is that all of the Biden Administration's visits so far have been "home games" for the CCP: U.S. officials make their way to China to pay homage, but CCP officials do not have to "bother" coming to the U.S.
Have Americans become so tired of the "outrage of the week," foisted upon us by our political elites and the media, that it has led to a dysfunctional political system and has confused the American people on the difference between real threats -- such as the Chinese Navy overtaking the U.S. Navy while 37% of U.S. attack submarines are out of order -- and lesser threats, such as pronouns?
As some analysts have stated, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other CCP leaders "recall a world in which China was dominant and other states related to them as supplicants to a superior, as vassals that came to Beijing bearing tribute."
Restoring China to that position of dominance is the long-term goal of Xi and the CCP. This is the real threat that should unite Americans to face the challenge head-on to maintain America's leadership position in the world. This position is one where there will be respect for human rights, economic freedom and security, and where the U.S. serves as a beacon for representative government; individual freedoms; property rights; equal justice under the law (a bit askew at the present) and above all, the right to free speech.