When I lived with Tom in the city of Chengdu in 2015 and into 2016, he was a 23-year-old probationary member of the Chinese Communist Party, on his way to joining the organization’s nearly 90 million full members. He wanted to embark on a career in government because he believed he could be a fair, considerate, thoughtful, and intelligent leader for his people and his country. By academic achievement, he ranked as one of the better minds of his generation, at the top of his class at Sichuan University, the best university in western China. Tom’s ultimate goal was to serve as mayor of a “small or large town” with a population of one to 14 million. Power also motivated him; politics was a way to be somebody. It was too early to tell if he was on track, but those were his ambitions.


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