[FORUM]The underdog has his day“I want to set the National Assembly on fire.” This was a voice of resentment at a candlelight demonstration against the presidential impeachment. During his first term as a representative, President Roh Moo-hyun also had similar violent emotions. In March 1989, the spring after Mr. Roh became famous at a hearing on former President Chun Doo Hwan’s wrongdoings, its legal conclusion was to be hushed up by opposition from the ruling party. At a private event, he said, “The Assembly is not representing all the people. It is surrounded by the shadow of a lobby. I want to set fire to it.”
At about that time, he submitted his resignation as a lawmaker. He then suggested as an alternative popular struggle: Putting the Assembly aside, the people should take the initiative directly.
Fifteen years later, he faces impeachment, and the scene he pictured to himself is actually unfolding splendidly. The Assembly appears to be on fire against the backdrop of burning candles. Representatives from Our Open Party are picking up their lawmaker’s badges they once threw away. Representative democracy, the principle of democracy, is being criticized, while direct democracy and a theory of civil revolution gain power. What must it be like for the president to watch this situation?
Strong opposition against impeachment comes from the hearts of the grass roots. They have a deep sympathy for the weak. They feel sorry for the weak president because the strong and corrupt Assembly felled him. The sentiments of most people are to have compassion for the weak. Their hatred increases if the strong are corrupt. If the weak are broken with grief, the people try to cover up their faults. When such symmetry is formed in the people’s hearts, the logic for the impeachment, however sophisticated, loses ground. The controversies over putting labor unions before the economy and over a pro-North Korean foreign policy are put on the back burner. Questions arise: “Is the corrupt Assembly entitled to impeach?” Those questions become influential.
President Roh is accustomed to such peculiar sentiments of the people. Presidential power is the highest power here, but he has described himself as weak. He probably advocates principles and philosophy because he considered the effect of a resolute image. His chaotic national management for the past year and frequent slips of the tongue have been criticized, but once he competes with the Grand National Party, Mr. Roh is seen differently.
When disguised as being less corrupt, lonely, and determined, he becomes invincible in the fight with the Grand National Party. This is a simple principle for how he wins. As long as the Grand Nationals carry the stigma of receiving political funds in a truck, he will be able to taste the joy of a reversal.
Ordinarily, commoners whose life is tougher than during the financial crisis and young people frustrated with not finding jobs would criticize the government, because the basic responsibility for their economic failure lies with those administrators. But after the impeachment, more people blame the Grand National Party. The ruling party passed the buck to the Assembly ―”Because the Assembly was preoccupied with political strife, the economy is ruined” ― and that was effective.
The people wanted to see the Grand National Party confess. They wanted to see tears of repentance about the illegal funds. The former chairman of the party, Lee Hoi-chang, disappeared after making a statement that he would go to prison. Although his statement contained the agony of rule by the law, it did not satisfy the public. The leadership that remained at the hotel-like party headquarters appeared far from painful self-reflection.
To soothe the angry people, they should step into the lives of the people. They should show themselves wiping away their tears. The majority of the people are examining how the party led by Park Keun-hye will change. They expect touching politics that parts from corruption.
This is the starting point for real change in the Grand National Party.
* The writer is a deputy managing editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Park Bo-gyoon
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