[EDITORIALS]Popular, but at what cost

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[EDITORIALS]Popular, but at what cost

With two months left until the nation chooses a new president, the candidates are going full blast garnering support. We have seen in the past numerous cases of disgraceful behavior and slandering by candidates in their blind pursuit of popularity. Allegations that the son of the Grand National Party candidate dodged the draft have been in circulation for more than a year, and other allegations, which seem to pop up whenever there is an election, are getting annoyingly tiring. The hottest issue, the 400 billion won ( $317 million) allegedly sent to North Korea by the Blue House, is a matter that could be cleared quickly with a simple tracking of account transactions. Yet, politicians are making a verbal match out of it, attacking and counterattacking.

The candidates seem to have finally sensed the disgust and anger of the public and have started to present constructive campaign promises. These, however, are shallow gestures to win popularity. The candidates maintain the center on most of the immediately important issues as not to lose votes. Some are even mimicking the other candidates' campaign promises in hopes of winning more votes.

Another form of distorted competition for popularity is found in the behavior of those who oppose Roh Moo-hyun, the Millennium Democratic Party candidate, and the independent candidate, Chung Mong-joon. After announcing they would abandon the ship when they thought Mr. Roh did not stand a chance, the "anti-Roh" faction has declared that they would wait until the end of October before making any further decisions as things have turned out to be trickier than they thought. Such behavior derives from the attitude that votes are everything.

Mr. Chung's side is buying time by announcing that it could discuss the possibility of joining a party. This shows the lack of identity that is fundamental to politics. The GNP candidate, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Roh are no different in their pursuit of votes by enthusiastically criticizing Mr. Chung for this tactic. Badmouthing others, trying to win votes by shifting one's identity and making sugarcoated campaign promises that sow confusion is not the way to gain popularity. Candidates should know that attractive and convincing campaign promises and a vision is the right way to win popularity.
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