Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society

London School of Economics and Political Science Students' Union

Proudly sponsored by Freshfields and Skadden, and supported by The British Council and The Hong Kong Society.

 

This website was launched in 2015 by Zoe Liu (Publications Officer 2015-16)

"Sorry, I'm not listening."

November 5, 2016

 

2016 has been a year of contentious elections. From the infamous US presidential to our Legislative Council elections, politics in many places have been more divisive than ever. Scandals have besieged almost every election across the globe, from the Donald Trump sex scandal to the oath taking in HK. However, that's only part of the problem. What's really troubling is the fundamental breakdown in communications.

 

Take the US elections for example. Republicans and Democrats have a proud tradition of being on the opposite sides of every single political issue, from guns to taxes. In the past, most controversies have been on policy, such as in the abortion debate (Roe v Wade). This has since changed. Increasingly, both sides of the aisle have been refusing to engage in constructive debate, opting to undermine their opponents credibility instead. The greatest culprit here is the Trump campaign. Calls that the campaign and media are being rigged have floated around since the very start of this election. Clinton is not above water either, calling half of Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables”. This type of rhetoric does nothing to further policy debates. Instead, it furthers the mistrust of supporters in both parties, making communication between both sides more difficult. When there is an electorate that does not believe in the democratic process or refuses to engage in dialogue due to perceived intelligence of their opponents, political discourse grinds to a standstill.

 

Engaging in communication is key to political compromise. Some might ask: “What is there to gain from debating with someone that thinks banning Muslims is a good idea?” Indeed, such a plan is not politically or practically feasible. But it is only by communication that we can understand the concerns of our opponents

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