[VIEWPOINT: THE URI PARTY]Power, codes and ideologyThe results of the local elections make me worry about the future of the nation. Nobody is pleased with the election results. Everybody must be feeling angry, and it seems that people are feeling nervous because there is no alternative.
The May 31 elections were for local government heads and members of councils. But they ultimately were a judgment on the current administration.
The Blue House insists, “It is absurd to attribute responsibility for the governing party’s sweeping defeat to the president.” But that is an absurd claim itself. It is a consequence of the government’s attitude of ignoring reality and going against the sentiment of the public at all times while clinging to a formal logic. Despite the fact that the situation has become aggravated to this extent because of persistant misrule, if the administration still fails to regain its sense of reality, I think it is probably because it is seriously affected with the following three diseases.
First is a disease called political power. The administration now appeals to its supporters “to help regain political power,” but in the early stage of the administration it called for “a transfer of power.” There was a strong desire to completely destroy the existing forces, as if in a revolution, and replace them with another force in a short period of time.
Second, they have an illness called “ideology.” The fundamental values pursued by those in power are “class” and “nation” no matter what they may say. “Class” naturally brings about struggle and conflicts. The value of “nation” is supposed to bring about social integration, but under the situation of national division, it ignites conflict among people in the South.
The third disease is a “code.” This “code” is an illness that is shared by cronies who understand each other and who want to slake their thirst for power and ideology.
So what should be done now? Let’s solve things in reverse order, taking the easy problem first. First, we must get rid of the code. The people do not care about the code, but they want to eat and live well. Incapable people who are of no help to problems related to the people’s livelihood should be fired and held accountable. Then the administration must look for people with capabilities and employ them even if they do not share a common code with those in power. A year and a half is not a short period of time. If we get rid of the problem of the code, there will be no need for the administration to propose a coalition with the opposition again.
Next, we need to focus more on “democracy” than on “class” and “nation.” We live with the false assumption that we now live in a full-fledged democratic country. But democracy is not in full blossom because it has fallen into the ambush of “class struggle” and “national liberation.” Regardless of whether they do this consciously or unconsciously, those who are in power currently play a part. There is no other democratic country that is swayed so much by populism as Korea is. We must end the politics that manipulate public opinion on the pretext of popular participation.
Finally, the governing party must give up on a “transfer of power.” Instead, it should do its utmost to “recreate power.” It has to regain its position as the governing party. People already say that the president is going to keep his distance from the party or that the party will be dissolved. We should refrain from making such rash remarks. If things go that way, the hard times that we have endured until now will have been meaningless.
All these changes should bear concrete results through changes in government policy. But there are two things that we should keep in mind. No matter how good the intentions may be, we should not try to judge policies as good or evil. There are opponents in politics; you shouldn’t call them an “axis of evil.” Second, it is necessary to have an eye that sees the world. Policymakers of the Uri Party seem to ignore the fact that society is a living being and an existence that changes. If they intend to change something, they must run in tandem with society. They can’t do it as if conducting a surgical operation by simply putting voters to sleep with anesthesia.
The people of Korea should brace themselves. It is true that politicians are so untrustworthy as to make people angry. But there is a saying that the standard of a country’s politics reflects the standards of its people.
The results of the latest elections showed that there are still high barriers between regions. The character of the candidates didn’t matter, only the region where they came from, even in the local elections.
Now that the typhoon has passed, we need to gather our minds together and be prepared to go through the presidential election next year and the legislative elections the year after that. We should make these elections be recorded in history as elections that overcome doctrinal ideologies and break down regionalism at long last. I hope that the next elections will be ones that give happiness to the people instead of anger.
* The writer is a professor of political science at Kookmin University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Cho Choong-bin