[OUTLOOK]Time for some sober thoughtsAre you laughing or are you crying? Are you angry and frustrated? Or are you ashamed of yourself? Are you vowing vengeance in your heart? Or do you want to forgive and reconcile? Are you tied to the past or are you looking to the future? I wonder what President Roh Moo-hyun must be feeling as he spends his days at the Blue House stripped of his constitutional powers.
It is reported that 70 percent of the public opposed the impeachment and the protest rallies held every day seem to attest to that. Perhaps when the president heard that victory is now certain for Our Open Party in the general election he nodded his head in smug anticipation and said, “My plan has worked. I really know how to play my cards, don’t I?” Or maybe he is spending gloomy days looking at reality torn to pieces right now saying, “This is all because of me. I don’t know what to do.”
I hope President Roh is crying. I hope he is ashamed of himself. If the president is looking at the current situation with repentance and accepting it as his fault, we still have hope. If he was angry about the impeachment, but he is laughing now because the tables have turned, there is no hope for us. I don’t think he would do so. Even ordinary Korean citizens are worrying about our country whenever they meet; how could the president not do the same?
No matter what the results of the impeachment are, our country will be in a very difficult situation. We don’t know what will happen should the Constitutional Court rule against the impeachment and Our Open Party win a major victory in the legislative elections. Will there be a bloody vendetta, as the conservatives fear? Or will the president finally be given a chance to prove his leadership and abilities? There is no knowing whether we would be able to elect the next president in an orderly way should the court rule in favor of impeaching President Roh. Our country could as easily be swept away with demonstrations and chaos. What is sure is that we are already at the threshold of a a crisis.
If President Roh is crying right now, there is something he could do for the country even before the court rules on the impeachment. He could plead with his supporters, including members of Nosamo, his personal fan club, to stop their candlelight vigils. We are not so affluent that we can afford protest rallies every day. President Roh was a man who fought for democracy, but right now, our democracy is in danger because of him. Whether wrong or right, the decision of the National Assembly was a decision that has to be respected. Of what use is representative democracy if we do not follow the decisions of our Assembly? Shall we decide every social issue with candlelight vigils in Gwanghwamun?
The president must personally urge the broadcasting networks, including KBS, to show fair coverage of impeachment-related news and the legislative election. Mr. Roh might feel grateful to the broadcasters and think that he has found heaven-sent allies in them. Nevertheless, if he is sincerely worried about the future of our country, he would not want the broadcasts to continue this way. Under the military dictatorship, broadcasts were censored by violence and force. What is happening now? Are the broadcasts fighting for justice or for a particular ideology? Or are they just following a personal cult of Roh Moo-hyun? Could we say that democracy can flourish under such broadcasting practices?
President Roh must use his time to practice overcoming his partisan tendencies. He should not be sitting in his Blue House seat calculating the number of seats that Our Open Party might win, but worrying about how to maintain a working relationship with the National Assembly and political parties as the president. This situation was brought upon us because the president could not transcend his partisanship. The president is the leader of his party and the leader of his country at the same time. This always leaves an element of tension. Even the founding fathers of the United States had this problem. But the early U.S. presidents such as George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson chose their country over their party and that is how the United States of today was created. A president should be able to transcend the gap between the government party and the opposition and learn to live with both sides as the leader of the country.
Should the president show such a change, even those who supported impeachment would change their minds. A leader is a leader only when there are followers. A good leader is made only when there are good followers. Leadership is determined by the number of followers; a leader is not a lone sailboat out on the wide ocean. After he is elected president, he must be followed. This was not the case over the past year. The fault was as much with the followers who did not trust him as with the president himself. But at this point, if the president shows humility, he will be able to turn around the hearts of his opponents.
I hope the president spends his days out of power by himself. He should not be inviting people over to talk about what happens after the impeachment but spend the time strictly by himself. He would surely be able to find an answer then.
I do not hope nor despair of the future. Who wins the elections is not that important. We would be treading on new ground. A country with 50 million people and a GNP per capita of $10,000 can’t possibly crumble so easily.
* The writer is the chief editor of editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk