[Outlook]Candidate scrutiny must be fairSuccess spawns failure, and strength holds the seeds of weakness inside. Two of the Grand National Party’s presidential candidates garner more than a combined 70-percent approval rating from the nation. It seems obvious that the GNP will win the election if this support continues. But nothing spawns failure more quickly than the undeserved support which the GNP immoderately enjoys.
The decline and fall of a great power starts from the inside. The Roman Empire declined because of its own decadence, decay and factious splits; not because of the attacks from Germanic tribes. Internal disintegration is deadly when there is no external enemy. That is why a winner does not always win. Thus the “attacks from within” that candidates in the Grand National Party are undergoing is a sign the party could be collapsing internally.
Surely a close examination of a presidential contender is required to uncover whether she or he is adequate for office. Some even say the GNP should fight more fiercely. Then does fighting make one stronger? Fighting external enemies strengthens internal cohesion. But the fight within a fellowship disintegrates its inner structure. To claim that a candidate should clarify his or her suspicious personal history presupposes one’s mistakes and therefore vilifies a candidate and calls a candidate’s integrity into question. This would turn a past ally into an enemy.
The GNP has already begun to fall apart because “internal attacks” lead to nothing else. A candidate enjoying 50 percent support currently would wonder why his party tears him down so much when half the nation backs him. He may also consider leaving the party and running as an independent candidate.
In the meantime, other candidates hope he does leave because that means more support for them no matter how weak their support is now. If the leading candidate leaves, the field opens up for another candidate to become the party favorite and enjoy all the benefits that go with it. Some people near the candidate who is under the spotlight must have seen his scrutiny as an opportunity. Under these circumstances, “internal attacks” are a way to expel an individual, which catalyzes the fallout within the party.
A candidate needs a review of his history, but the review procedure must be come with a safety net that makes the candidate stronger, not reduces his strength. Rectification of an historical injustice should be cautious in order not to unfairly hurt an individual, since the fact that one is brought before public attention for wrongdoing is likely to impair his honor. “Internal attacks” can have the same effect. They detract from the reputation of the person against whom the attacks are launched. To preclude such unfortunate harm done to an individual, several protections must be followed.
First, requests for internal party scrutiny must be based on true facts or a true state of affairs. Because rumors cannot be confirmed, those who raise internal scrutiny issues should not spread false rumors against another.
Internal scrutiny also ought to be a public process. When questions about a candidate’s character are asked in the open, it prevents internal scrutiny from becoming personal slander. Furthermore, the internal scrutiny process should come to a close as quickly as possible. The longer it lasts, the more destructive it becomes to both the claimants and the reviewed. Inasmuch as the defendant is assumed innocent before the court rule, internal scrutiny needs to hold such assumptions. Respect for another is required.
Finally, it is best to end the procedure after a first attempt. Since it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion in such issues, it is enough to make one request and hear one attempt at an explanation. The final decision lies in the hands of the public. In case these principles are not respected in practice, senior members who are in authority must step in to mediate the procedure.
The direction of this presidential election depends on how the internal attacks taking place among GNP candidates are brought to an end. It works as an opportunity for the GNP’s competitors, while it is potentially dangerous for its supporters. It is said those who have the strongest will to attain power survive in real politics. We have observed numerous such will-to-power personalities. If the intention of the two contenders was to rise to power, they will follow where power leads, as has always been true of politics. But if they stand for principles and ideals that go beyond ambition, one may well hope to see a difference between the two. I hope the presidential race will be a competition between honorable persons with a great concern for the state instead of a competition between those who are hungry for power. It is because those who want to be a president should be different from the other politicians.
*The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk