Accomplishment Builds Self-esteem, Not Participation Trophies

So you got a medal for coming in last? No wonder you feel bad about yourself. It turns out accomplishment builds self-esteem, not participation trophies.

In an interview that's gone viral, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek nails the four main reasons for Millennial unhappiness: poor parenting, social media, impatience and environment.

"Who was it that was standing against the awards for last place?" Glenn asked on his radio program Monday.

Why conservatives, thank you very much.

Working hard to overcome challenges makes you feel capable and smart. The other failed strategies, combined with the overwhelming presence of social media, make you feel entitled, unhappy and disconnected.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Welcome to the program. So glad that you're here. Let's go with Simon Sinek in an interview that he did about millennials, in front of a crowd about, what is -- what is really happening with millennials? And how do we reach out to millennials? What do we need to do to get them truly engaged? Because there is a sense of entitlement there. Listen.

SIMON: The generation that we call the millennials, too many of them grew up subject to -- not my words -- failed parenting strategies. You know, where, for example, they were told that they were especially all the time. They were told that they could have anything they want in life, just because they want it, right?

They were told -- some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. And some of them got A's, not because they earned them, but because the teachers didn't want to deal with the parents.

GLENN: Can we stop for a second?

Who's -- where did that failed parenting strategy come from? Let me reverse that: Who was it that was standing against the awards for last place?

PAT: Oh, conservatives.

STU: Right.

JEFFY: Yeah.

GLENN: Conservatives were all saying --

PAT: Yeah, we begged you not to.

GLENN: "This is not going to work. This is not going to work."

PAT: My gosh, at the top of our lungs, we were screaming that.

GLENN: Right. Right.

So I think the first thing, we just need to put on the chalkboard, just point number one: Not all of America was behind this --

PAT: In no way would Simon recognize that. But it's a fact.

GLENN: I think he would. I think he would.

PAT: I don't think he would, but we should ask him.

STU: And to back Simon with the stats on that, in 1940, 14.9 percent of college grades were A's. 14.9 percent. Today it's 45.3 percent.

PAT: Yeah, it's even worse in the Ivy League schools. Even worse.

GLENN: They're that much smarter.

STU: They're that much smarter, right.

Think about that, when he talks about people achieving these things without achieving them, I mean, there's no way -- if it's true that they're that much smarter, then the classes should be harder. You shouldn't be giving half the grades an entire -- not just one school or one class, all of college, half of them are A's.

PAT: And we should have the greatest school system in the world year in and year out.

GLENN: In the world. And it doesn't happen that way.

Anyway, he goes on to diagnose the problem.

SIMON: Participation medals. You got a medal for coming in last, right? Which the science we know is pretty clear, which it devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard. And that actually makes the person who comes in last feel embarrassed because they know they don't deserve it. So it actually makes them feel worse. Right?

GLENN: Hello.

SIMON: So you take this group of people. And they graduate school, and they get a job. And they're thrust into the real world.

And in an instant, they find out they're not special. Their moms can't get them a promotion. That you get nothing for coming in last.

And, by the way, you can't just have it because you want it. Right?

And in an instant, their entire self-image is shattered. And so you have an entire generation that's growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generation. The other problem, to compound it is we're growing up in a Facebook, Instagram world. In other words, we're good at putting filters on things. We're good at showing people that life is amazing, even though I'm depressed. Right?

GLENN: Okay. Stop for a second. Notice that the first problem -- he wrapped all of that -- failed parenting strategies. He wrapped that up with the diagnosis of what? What does he say that all led to? This is such a huge, huge problem. What does he say?

PAT: Social media.

GLENN: No. Uh-uh. That's point number two.

PAT: Looking for --

STU: Self-esteem.

PAT: Self-esteem.

GLENN: He said the lowest self-esteem on record.

STU: Which is crazy. Because it seems every strategy today is to make them have higher self-esteem. But it fails.

GLENN: But it fails. Because you're not having to actually accomplish anything.

PAT: Because it's artificial. It's artificial. You can't tell somebody they're great if they're not.

GLENN: They know it.

STU: That's why we can't handle Jeffy.

JEFFY: Good to have you back, boy.

GLENN: When they're on the team and they know that nobody is really listening to me. I'm not -- I'm just on this team for whatever reason. I've got pictures of the boss.

PAT: Uh-huh.

GLENN: People know, "I'm not making a difference. Nothing I do is really helping anything." When you have that, low self-esteem kicks in. They want -- I hear this from employee after employee after employee. I just want to do something that makes a difference.

So when they're saying low self-esteem and when millennials say, "I want to make a difference," what they're saying is, "I have low self-esteem. I have to do something that means something." This is what is propelling them, I believe, in their boots on the ground kind of activities, where they say, I don't want to just talk about it. I want to go out and do it.

They've heard the talk about how special they are their whole life. They know they're not. They know that's a lie. And because of that, they have low self-esteem.

So now they're really motivated to stop talking about it and go actually do it, but getting there is the hard part.

SIMON: Everybody sounds tough, and everybody sounds like they got it all figured out. And the reality is, there's very little toughness, and most people don't have it figured out.

And so when the more senior people say, "Well, what should we do?" They sound like, "This is what you got to do." And they have no clue.

(laughter)

Right?

So you have an entire generation growing up lower self-esteem than previous generations, right? Through no fault of their own. Through no fault of their own. They were dealt a bad hand, right?

Now, let's add in technology. We know that engagement with social media and our cell phone phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That's why when you get a text: It feels good. Right?

So we've all had it where you're feeling a little bit down or feeling a bit lonely. And so you send out ten texts to ten friends. You know, hi, hi, hi, hi. Because it feels good when you get a response, right? Right?

It's why we count the likes. It's why we go back ten times -- and if it's going -- if my Instagram is growing slower, did I do something wrong? Do they not like me anymore?

The trauma for young kids to be unfriended. Right? Because we know when you get it, you get a hit of dopamine, which feels good. It's why we like it. It's why we keep going back to it.

Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble.

In other words, it's highly, highly addictive. Right?

We have age restrictions on smoking, gambling, and alcohol. And we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones, which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers, "Hey, by the way, this adolescence thing, if it gets you down..."

But that's basically what's happening. That's basically what's happening. Right? That's basically what happened. You have an entire generation that has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine, through social media and cell phones as they're going through the high stress of adolescence. Why is this important?

Almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. When we were very, very young, the only approval we need is the approval of our parents. And as we go through adolescence, we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers.

Very frustrating for our parents, very important for us. It allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families into the border tribe. Right?

It's a highly, highly stressful and anxious period of our life, and we're supposed to learn to rely on our friends.

Some people, quite by accident, discover alcohol and numbing effects of dopamine to help them copy with the stresses and anxieties of adolescence. Unfortunately, that becomes hard-wired in their brains. And for the rest of their lives, when they suffer significant stress, they will turn to a person. They will turn to the bottle: Social stress, financial stress, career stress. That's pretty much the primary reasons why an alcoholic drinks, right?

What's happening is, because we're allowing unfettered access to these dopamine-producing devices and media, basically it's becoming hardwired.

And what we're seeing is, as they grow older, they -- too many kids don't know how to form deep, meaningful relationships. Their words, not mine.

GLENN: Okay. Stop. Stop.

PAT: Uh-huh.

GLENN: Jeffy say it. Where am I taking that?

JEFFY: Go ahead, Glenn. It's all you.

GLENN: That is exactly -- this -- this adds fuel to the fire of my concern about gaming the way it's being done with virtual reality and what is coming. It is -- it is giving you a full -- soon, a full sensory gratification. You will get what you -- what you want.

JEFFY: No need for any other human.

GLENN: No need for human interaction.

PAT: Yeah. As soon as the --

GLENN: And they won't know how to do it.

PAT: As soon as the VR thing is perfected, it will be the artificial thing they're looking for. But it's just that, it's artificial.

GLENN: So what do -- how do we not become Japan? Seriously, Japan, they can't get people to breed. They cannot get people to have sex with one another.

Now, I don't know what weird stuff is happening in Japan that stops that, but it's not happening in Japan. And they're -- there won't be any Japanese people left, you know, in 100 years.

PAT: Yeah, their replacement rate, is it negative now?

GLENN: It can't be negative.

PAT: It's almost zero. But it certainly -- it's at an unhealthy level for sure.

GLENN: Yeah.

PAT: It's at an extinction rate.

GLENN: Yeah, it's past the point of no return.

PAT: Uh-huh.

GLENN: So when we -- now we're encouraging people not to have relationships.

Now, Saturday, I heard my son -- he was in the kitchen. I was in the kitchen. And he was playing, I don't know, Minecraft or something. And he was playing it with two friends together, and they each had boxes up on the -- you know, up on the screen.

JEFFY: Yeah.

GLENN: They were two girls that he was playing them with. Who were his friends.

And I saw normal interaction. I was listening to them while I was working in the kitchen and listening to them. And it sounded like absolute normal interaction. So what's the problem with that?

I'm trying to diffuse myself from being so phobic about that. He seems to have normal interaction. It's just different. It's just not --

PAT: Third person.

GLENN: But he's still looking at them.

PAT: Yeah. Uh-huh.

STU: I think just, what is normal interaction, changes. It's something we talked about with going to a concert. You go to a concert and all you see are phones. And every person like me or older says the same thing: Why don't you experience the freaking show you paid for instead of filming it?

JEFFY: That is it.

STU: But that is how they experience the show. They don't experience the show by looking at the show. They experience the show by holding up their phone and recording it so they can post it later. That is their experience at a concert.

GLENN: Yes.

PAT: And some artists are starting to push back against that. Right? Was it Adele?

JEFFY: Yeah. She's hollered at her audience before.

PAT: "Would you put the phone down and just watch the show -- enjoy the show. Experience the show."

JEFFY: I would say: You cash the check, I'll watch it any way I want. Sing.

PAT: Yeah. Yeah.

GLENN: I will tell you though that it happens all the time. When I meet people, we'll go out places -- there's one person, if we're in a group, there's one person who I never actually interact with -- usually a parent standing there with a phone, and they're only talking to me through the phone or talking to their child through the phone stop we never make eye contact. And I always feel bad because I feel like they were ripped off.

PAT: Yeah, they missed it. They missed it.

GLENN: They never had that personal connection. They did through the phone.

PAT: But we'll get to experience it later, Glenn.

GLENN: I know. It's weird. It's weird.

PAT: That is weird.

GLENN: Now, this.

Last week, we talked about the coastal buffers and how they weaken hurricanes at landfall. Now scientists are calling this a lucky phenomena. Scientists are discovering how incredibly prepared Mother Nature is for dealing with natural disasters.

By the way, do you remember -- we have to play this. The -- what's her name from -- in Congress from California that said the Sierra Nevada is soon -- like seven years or ten years -- she said this about ten years ago. Won't have snow.

PAT: Is that Boxer?

GLENN: Yeah, it was Barbara Boxer. We have to find that. Because they're about to have 20 feet of snow from the last week and a half. I think they had 3 feet drop on them yesterday alone.

Anyway, Mother Nature is prepared for disasters. If you're caught in a natural disaster like a hurricane or some other emergency, are you prepared to feed your family? My Patriot Supply is there right now with a 72-hour emergency food kit.

Now, this is something that the Department of Homeland Security -- everybody who is reasonable would say, "You should have three days of food." Because we are such a society that runs to the store -- I love that -- we talked about it yesterday when it snowed here in Dallas. It was just flurries yesterday morning here in Dallas. And I see -- I see the flurries. And my kids immediately repeat that viral video from that comedian up in New Jersey. Got to get the milk. Got to get the milk. Got to get the milk.

You see a snowflake, and you realize, "Got to get the milk." Because I've got nothing in my house. 72-hour emergency food kit right now. Ten dollars per family member for three days. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And all the snacks and the drinks and everything else. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days, $10. 800-200-9031. 800-200-9031. Save over 60 percent right now. Ten dollars. Family of four, for 40 bucks. PreparewithGlenn.com. That's preparewithGlenn.com.

(OUT AT 8:23AM)

GLENN: So we've been listening to Simon Sinek talk about the problem that the millennials face. And really, not by their fault. They were raised with bad parenting strategies that many of us have fought against for a long time, and now we realize, "Oh, gee, everybody gets a trophy isn't healthy for society." And so now, how do we get out of this? You want to go to his solution?

PAT: Yeah.

GLENN: Yeah. Here's his solution.

SIMON: Which leads me to the fourth point, which is environment. Which is, we're taking this amazing group of young, fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand. It's no fault of their own. And we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids.

GLENN: Okay. Stop for a second.

PAT: I'm sorry. It's not a corporation's responsibility to raise children when they're 32 years old.

JEFFY: When all they care about is making money.

GLENN: Hold on just a second.

PAT: Come on.

GLENN: We may be speaking different languages. So let me go there first.

PAT: I'm speaking English. You are speaking?

GLENN: I'm learning to speak progressive.

(laughter)

GLENN: I'm learning to speak the language that is being spoken all around us.

PAT: Yes, you are. Yes. So how do you put this in a progressive way?

GLENN: So what he's saying here is, I think you're hearing this in a progressive way. I think if I would rephrase --

PAT: Especially knowing him, yeah --

GLENN: I agree. I agree. So let me now say it this way.

First of all, do we generally agree it is their responsibility to fit in the world? The world doesn't -- the world doesn't shapeshift for you.

PAT: Right. The millennials have to fit in.

GLENN: You have to find your way in.

PAT: Yes. Yes.

GLENN: So when he says, at no fault of their own, you can say, yes -- society raised them. Their parents raised them in a certain way. And they were used as guinea pigs to experiment on, something that we took all eternal principles and threw them out the window and said, "Hey, being first is just as good at being last," right?

So through that part, no fault of their own. However, once their life starts to fall apart, it is their responsibility, correct?

PAT: Yeah, there's personal responsibility at every step, right?

GLENN: Every step. But when you're a kid and everything in society is training you to go one way, you generally don't say --

PAT: It's difficult.

GLENN: -- well, that doesn't make sense to me.

STU: Over your life you should reexamine those things, of course.

GLENN: But what does it take for you to reexamine your life?

PAT: It takes a crash. You have to hit a bottom.

GLENN: Something has to go wrong.

STU: The most common.

GLENN: Something has to go wrong. And it could be just as much, I keep getting these trophies, and I feel like crap. I keep getting -- I keep getting everything I want, and I'm not happy at all.

That's the most likely crash. But that crash will lead to suicide.

JEFFY: And that crash is coming.

GLENN: Yes.

JEFFY: He cites some numbers.

GLENN: Suicide. So that crash is a crash of no self-esteem. Because nothing has ever given you self-esteem because you've never been taught what self-esteem comes from. And that is accomplishment. Okay?

PAT: Yeah.

GLENN: Doing something. Even if it is -- it's like -- when you go clean your house or when you were a kid and you cleaned your room, you felt good after cleaning your room.

PAT: Yeah. Even though you didn't want to, to begin with.

GLENN: Correct. There's something to be said for accomplishment.

So now, let me show you what he just said, I think, about, it's the corporation's responsibility. No, it's not.

Well, yes. Kind of, it is. We'll go there next.

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.