[OUTLOOK]Both parties need parentingNothing happened between May 31 and July 11. The results of the May 31 local elections were a warning message that the people sent to the president and the ruling Uri Party. There was no response.
The president downplayed the people’s anger as resulting from the ebb and flow of popular opinion. Core government officials have merely traded seats.
What meaning was the Grand National Party’s convention on July 11 supposed to have? The Grand National Party, which won a sweeping victory in the last local elections, was expected to give hope to the people. However, there are rumors that the candidates for the party chairmanship are doing nothing but fighting.
Why do politicians not listen to the people, when countless people have given well-intended advice or criticism? Why is it that they can ignore the people like this?
We naturally become suspicious about politicians’ motivations and competence.
But isn’t there anything else to blame other than their wrong-headed motivations and incompetence? Is there something that politicians find hard to resist, when they find out they can’t make a difference even if they do their best?
When we name a newborn baby, we want the name to carry all our hope and expectations. Perhaps this is what the Uri Party members did when they named the party. In Korean, uri means “we,” or “us.”
When the politicians made the difficult decision to part with the Democratic Party, they must have wanted to form a party that included people from all regions and backgrounds. The politicians must have wanted to end corruption and achieve political reform. We can read their intentions simply from the name of their party.
However, the doors of the Uri Party have started to close since its reform drive transformed toward a focus on ideology. As the party becomes increasingly isolated, it is tempted to depend on the law of inertia.
This is even more so because the party is in power, so it is possible for it to conceal its dependency on the law of inertia while still relying on it. In Korea’s politics, regionalism has been the law of inertia. For the Uri Party, it is ideological politics.
When the whole world, including South Koreans, are worrying about the North’s missile launches, the president has remained silent. The government says that the people’s livelihood is in trouble, even though the overall economy is in good shape.
Although government plans keep falling apart, government bureaucrats continue to hire close acquaintances. These are the examples of the Uri Party’s management based on ideology.
Even if all these turn out to be big failures, there is one thing for them to depend on.
For old conservative politicians, regionalism is like a parent they can always return to and depend on. But a political bonding focused on ideology is even more convenient because it does not need an actual location.
The Grand National Party also fails to live up to its name. The word “national” is as meaningful as the word uri. The Grand National Party has a longer history than the Uri Party and thus it has had more time to commit wrongdoings.
But the most serious problem of all is that the Grand National Party has neglected its job to manage the nation. When the party took power, corruption became commonplace.
After it lost power, the party has not been able to say anything even as important fixtures around the nation teeter on the verge of collapse. The party merely waits for the ruling party to make a mistake. But even when that happens, the Grand National party seems to have little interest in attacking the ruling party.
The Grand National Party takes this passive attitude because it has its hometown to go to.
Although parents and hometowns offer us shelter, we cannot live there all the time ― it’s best to drop by every now and then.
Parents cannot protect a child who constantly gets into trouble because he believes that his parents would always be there for him. A child who seems obedient in front of his parents but does something different behind them is also unforgivable.
But as we are not wise enough as parents, we help the Uri Party stay immature and the Grand National Party stay hypocritical. Perhaps this is something that politicians find hard to resist.
Send a message to politicians that they cannot keep coming back to us and depending on us, as if we were their parents or homes that they could return to whenever they want. If they still do not understand, we should be prepared to adopt another child before it gets too late. Otherwise, we will end up taking them in again at a crucial time and they will fail to learn their lesson.
* The writer is a professor of politics at Kookmin University.
by Cho Choong-bin