“I’m a Democrat, but I’m not a party supporter. I’m a democracy supporter,” Liu told CNN.
But while some see chaos, Liu sees vitality. He says zealous citizens get angry. Indifferent and cynical citizens don’t make noise. And amid fears of Russian aggression and an audacious China, Liu says America’s tumultuous political climate is a strength, not a weakness.
“American history is the record of a small group of people who have been remaking this country over and over again, and we know that constant remaking is the greatest statement of our faith and fidelity to national purpose. Russia is white, stagnant and oligarchic, homogenous, authoritarian and centralized like China, but more like America, hybrid, dynamic, democratic and free. It will be remade to ”.
Liu is currently working on a new book, What an American Should Know, detailing the core civic knowledge every American should have in this polarized era.
CNN recently said why Liu remains optimistic about America’s future, how the move to censor history in public schools could backfire, and how he wants to make America great again. We talked about his reactions to people. His comment has been edited for brevity.
I think that when you give in to cynicism, you give it power. It’s hard because what we’re doing is unprecedented. We are about to create the first multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious democratic republic on earth on a grand scale. It didn’t exist before. I think it’s premature to say that to those who are concluding that it’s not possible. And by saying that, you’re dooming the project.
The only way to know if this project is possible is to act as if it is. That means committing over and over again to become the country we want.
You talked earlier about the power of storytelling. “Make America Great Again” seems like a very effective political slogan. Because it contains stories that imply that this country was great when it was once ruled by whites, and that people like Donald Trump are trying to restore greatness. What counterarguments can those with different visions of America make to address the fears of some white Americans?
The simplest and most compelling story is “If we all get better, we’ll get better.” This country will be the most competitive and powerful in the world if all suitable and capable competitors are allowed to participate.PS, everyone is potentially a suitable competitor. The more we have, the stronger we become as a country.
The story of Make American Great Again assumes that America was once great for everyone, but something went wrong and now it has to be fixed. But I would say that the story that we are all better off when we are all better off also involves some assumptions. would be great for anyone.
But another premise built into this second story line is that life isn’t zero-sum. If people of color can enjoy the same opportunities, rights, and privileges that white Americans have always enjoyed, it will not diminish. Opportunities for white Americans. It expands the pie rather than actually dividing it.
Is there any evidence from our country’s history to support what you said?
I point to most institutions in the United States. I’m a baseball guy The system of Major League Baseball is stronger, healthier, and more robust now that non-white players are participating. It’s a more prosperous business.
All Fortune 500 companies are stronger, more resilient, with deeper capabilities for innovation and broader and more diverse markets. This is because the United States has attained full economic citizenship, making Americans of color and white Americans economic power.
The military is another great example. Every chief of staff in each unified service will tell you that the service is stronger, more resilient, more adaptable, more capable because America is more diverse now They weren’t thinking in zero sum. They did not believe that desegregating the military after 1950 would prevent whites from getting enough seats in the military.
The military seems to be one of the last institutions where these diverse Americans come from all walks of life. How can we create more such space for the people of the United States?
I am a national service champion. It’s great to see more expectations for national service among young people. I am a champion in civilian or military service that you have to come together with a group of people who are different from you and do something together to deepen your appreciation for each other. The breadth, the beauty and the diversity of our country.
Some white parents and Republican lawmakers are campaigning against what they call “woke schooling” in public classrooms. If the fight against “arousal” in public schools is successful, what will be the end result?
As a result, citizens lose their ability to self-govern. An education that forces all students to avoid the offending parts and white students to avoid the things that are likely to offend will make all students more emotionally vulnerable, civic It reduces your ability to govern.
The point of public education is to enable citizens to live together in diverse communities. If all you get is a whitewashed history and everyone is nice and doesn’t say things that make some people uncomfortable, then right out of school you’ll find people with different opinions. Where the bad things that our country has acknowledged from the beginning continue, stepping outside the classroom into the real world diminishes our ability to participate in democracy. increase.
That kind of coercive indoctrination is more suitable for China than America. In addition to diversity of viewpoints, it is suitable for a country that wants to indoctrinate correct thought from the top down.
I’ve heard you talk about the difference between optimism and hope. Why would you choose hope over optimism?
Optimism is the attitude of the audience. I’m optimistic that the Yankees will come out of this funk and win the World Series. But I have nothing to do with whether it will come true. I am just watching. Hope means agency. Hope says I have something to do with results.
I want American democracy to get out of this funk and become stronger and more adaptive. Why do I have that hope? Because I literally spend every waking moment in it with people from all parts of the country who may not be famous or may not have a million followers but who are in the business of bringing communities together. is.
Looking back at the January 6th uprising and all the recent headlines, have you ever lost hope?
I never lost hope.
Really? not even a day?
Not even a day. Are there days when you get tired? yes. Should I leave it like this? Do you have days when you think you bet But it is far from losing hope.
Once you start working with others — yes, vote, read the news, pay attention — but the most important thing you can do is join a club. Build muscle in your relationships with people.
And when you get involved with other people to realize something for some common purpose, it can be a civic purpose or a hobby, like starting a book club.
Hope dies fastest when you are alone, isolated and cut off from others. But it’s hard to kill hope when you’re not alone.
To what extent is your work shaped by being the child of immigrants? (Liu’s parents were born in China and immigrated to the United States from Taiwan).
Almost everything I do as a citizen is shaped by the fact that I am the child of immigrants. If you are a second-generation American, it is very vivid to witness how much most Americans take for granted. When you leave, you realize how fragile and precious these things are.
These things mean our constitution, but they also mean a culture in which we constantly create remixes and churn out new hybrids of music, food, songs, lineage – what happens here is else does not occur at the location of
Americans born here stop thinking about it. As a child of immigrants, I know how much my parents had to give up, take risks, and sacrifice to get here, and what is worth the sacrifice here. I can see through the eyes of my parents. I have an urgent duty to be part of the solution to help this country live up to its promise.