Can democracy be snuffed out? You bet it can. Just look at what’s happening in Hong Kong.
My last visit there was at the end of 2019, right before the pandemic, during what seems in retrospect to have been the final stand of the pro-democracy movement. In those days, pop-up demonstrations were a regular event, including clashes in the streets between masked activists and police officers.
The Hong Kong government was already cracking down on dissent and increasingly siding with Beijing’s efforts to bring the city under its total control. But independent news organizations still challenged the erosion of democratic freedoms. Opposition politicians spoke out in defense of autonomy and independence.