[OUTLOOK]GNP must change in its own way

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[OUTLOOK]GNP must change in its own way

A quarrel begins between a legislator who was an official of the national intelligence agency and a young lawmaker who virtually inherited his father’s electoral district. Both are legislators for the Grand National Party. The quarrel is about the current issue of debate among politicians, especially in the Grand National Party: change.
When the younger man demands that those who had abused human rights in the past should step down, the older member retorts, “While I was working for our country, you were living abroad in the United States as an ‘orange-jok,’ ” using a word to describe a rich, spoiled child.
This story demonstrates the current standoff between the different generations of politicians in the Grand National Party. The younger members blame the older ones for the party’s past human rights abuses, which has put the party in a tight spot now. On the other hand, the older Grand Nationals feel that they are being ousted by undeserving fresh faces whose only virtue was to have wealthy and influential parents who were able to send them to study abroad and who later helped them win elections.
“Change” has become a favorite word with the general elections looming. The dangerously simple assumption that parties that change are good parties and parties that don’t are bad ones is resonating with the public.
Changing over is indeed necessary. New water must flow in and stagnant water should flow out. That is the law of nature. However, the method of transition could, and should, be different according to the philosophy of that particular party. The changing of the guard of a party with conservative colors is bound to be different from that of a party with more radical and progressive thoughts.
However, the Grand National Party seems to have lost its identity even in the process. One of the core values of conservatism is upholding tradition. The past is passed onto the present, and those who live in the present contribute their own creations to create the future.
This means that conservatism seeks continuation, not disruption, and renovation, rather than revolution.
However, the current debate has taken on a very radical tone regardless of whether the actual political tendencies are progressive or conservative. It might suit radicalism and progressivism, as it fits their political views and ideas. The past is rotten and bad, and it must be swept away to make way for a new world. For those who think this way, change must also come in such a manner.
It should be different for conservatives. If conservatives swap out their leadership in the same way as the radicals do, then the conservatives are actually giving up their conservativism to imitate radicalism and the progressivism in a shallow effort to follow the trend of the day.
What do the references to “human rights abuse” and “orange-jok” signify? They are the weapons used by those who favor radicalism and progressivism today to attack those who held power in the recent past, that is, the negative legacy of the Grand National Party.
This legacy stems from the human rights abuses in the past and the social deviations of the wealthy, symbolized by the “orange-jok.” The radicals call for a new world order where the history of human rights abuses is swept away and where there are no “orange-joks.”
However, conservatives should approach this legacy differently. Through the dark days of the party’s past, the nation experienced great economic development, and the “orange-joks” are the side-products of this economic growth. The conservatives must acknowledge these rights abuses as an unfortunate side-effect in a much bigger and prouder legacy.
The internal fighting among Grand National Party members now is similar to the orange telling the orange tree that it is not its tree and the orange tree denying that it produced the orange. What good is such a tree? It would be better to cut it off. This would be the radicals’ thought.
The identity crisis of the Grand National Party doesn’t end here. In the process of ratifying the free trade agreement with Chile, the Grand Nationals gave up being conservatives. If they were true conservatives, they would have gladly supported the principles of free market and free trade. However, the party chose to adopt the popular views so that it wouldn’t lose the farmers’ vote.
The same went for the decision on dispatching troops to Iraq. When the radical parties had opposed sending them, the Grand National Party should have clearly stated its support for the deployment.
Will the Grand National Party turn into a populist party, conservative in name only and opportunistic and inconsistent in its deeds? Who would vote for such a party with no identity?
The Grand National Party should change in a Grand National Party way. It should not be done by flipping and flopping but rather by passing and carrying on. In other words, it should be run as a relay race. The baton must be passed onto new runners who are in better shape to continue the race toward the end line called free democracy.
Also, politicians who were around during military-backed governments should not be forced out just because they are old. Those who still have strength to run and are good at it should be left to keep on running. The goal is the complete establishment of a free democracy in this country. Age or accomplishment matters not. What matters is who can run better.

* The writer is the chief editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Moon Chang-keuk
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