[Viewpoint]Not just anyone can be president

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[Viewpoint]Not just anyone can be president

The Korean pop singer Tae Jin-a sings, “Love is not for everybody. At the very least, you need to start with eye contact.”
It is true. You need to at least make eye contact, hold hands and share some emotions with the other person. A one-sided relationship, where one person declares love for the other person, who doesn’t care at all in return, can’t be love.
The state of things regarding politicians not affiliated with the Grand National Party these days reminds me of Tae Jin-a’s song.
Even in an elementary school council election, things as absurd as we see in Korean politics now would not happen.
There are about 20 so-called liberal candidates who have expressed an intention to run in the primary that will choose a person to run against the Grand National Party presidential candidate.
People who never hesitated before to say things and take actions to hurt other people are now trying to woo voters. They seem to think that the voters are a group of amnesiacs. Even practically unknown politicians, out the blue, are saying, “I want to be the president, too.”
They always say they want to join the presidential race “for the homelant and the people.”
The public feels like it’s being insulted. In Africa, a long time ago, there were countries in which a sergeant grasped power through a coup d’etat, a 20-something youth was named cabinet minister or dozens of candidates ran for president. A similar phenomenon is happening in the Republic of Korea, the world’s 12th-largest economic power, in the 21st century.
Why? The answer is the so-called “Roh Moo-hyun lesson.”
People learned from President Roh’s success in the 2002 presidential race.
In the spring of 2002, when the Democratic Party launched its presidential primary, Roh had no base or supporting forces. He started with nothing, but still won in the end.
That’s why the presidential hopefuls not affiliated with the Grand National Party who have approval ratings of just over 1 percent would probably retort, “Did President Roh become president because he had a high approval rating when he jumped in the race?”
There is the hope for a dramatic reversal by staging a “surprise show,” as President Roh did in the 2002 presidential race.
Candidate Roh reversed his falling approval rating instantly through the miraculous method of concluding a deal with Chung Mong-joon, another presidential candidate, “to unify the candidacy according to opinion poll results.”
The non-GNP candidates can confidently say that they can change the flow of public opinion whenever they want.
They have the arrogant attitude that they can manipulate people any way they want.
However, there is not much that the voters can say in their defense, because many of them fell into the trap set by Roh in 2002.
In the past, at least, authority and dignity were associated with the word “president” -- the highest leader of the nation, the guardian of the Constitution and the supreme commander of the military.
What a prestigious and important post it is! However, the presidential position has turned into a laughing stock during the past five years while President Roh has been in power.
Breaking authoritarianism is desirable, but the authority, which should be protected at all costs, has been thrown away, too.
The non-GNP candidates may think they can do the same thing, saying, “President Roh did it, so why shouldn’t I?”
The Republic of Korea is a democratic country. Anybody can run for president, and that is something no one can oppose.
However, I seriously want some of the candidates to contemplate whether their approval ratings, political careers and lives truly fit the title, “president of the Republic of Korea.”
The last verse of Tae Jin-a’s song goes, “Love is not for everybody. Who said it was easy?”
If anyone can be president, the country will be swept into turmoil.
Do not underestimate the voters, either. It’s disgusting to watch the self-proclaimed presidential candidates makeing big fusses all over the place.

*The writer is the senior city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Chong-hyuk
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