[Viewpoint]Primary blues

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[Viewpoint]Primary blues

The United New Democratic Party primary election is quite ridiculous. Some readers might not even be familiar with the united-something party’s name.
It is currently performing the role of a ruling party. It is quite absurd, actually, if we look into the way the name of the party changed. Not long ago, Uri Party lawmakers staged a show of bolting, one after another, from the party as President Roh’s approval rating fell to the ground.
At that time, they separated from each other and behaved as though they would never meet again. However, they slowly gathered together again and are now electing a presidential candidate after changing the name of their party.
A party’s presidential primary is both a festival and a drama in a normal democratic country.
In some ways, it is like a soccer match. People shout for their team’s victory; some over-excited players break the rules and there are the usual controversies over biased judgment by the referees. But overall, it is worth watching. To be frank, however, the primary election of the United New Democratic Party is far from a soccer match. It’s enough to make people think that 1.7 billion won ($1.85 million) in tax money being spent to manage the voting and count the ballots is being wasted.
It is a fraudulent trick no matter how well you try to look at it. Are we back in the time of the Liberal Party under Syngman Rhee? The party says voters can cast their votes via cell phones. Now, it’s been revealed that more than 80,000 people have registered more than once. It is therefore no less than the 2007 version of the infamous proxy voting carried out by the Liberal Party.
The party used the names of President Roh Moo-hyun and ministers, vice ministers and members of fan clubs of famous entertainers without their consent. There is also a suspicion that someone may have submitted a box of applications on behalf of a group of voters. This is a lot like switching the voters’ list that took place under the Liberal Party in the 1950s.
That is not all. After holding a few rounds of regional primary elections, the party has suddenly stopped its already scheduled regional elections and changed the rules to hold a “one-shot primary election.”
Although the party had publicly announced the primary rules to elect the presidential candidate of the party, they simply changed those rules according to their needs.
Let me ask this: Do they think Korea is a backward country? Will they have the guts to ask people to give them support after acting like this?
Watching such shortcuts and irregular methods are rampant in the primary of the United New Democratic Party, and many people are now lamenting, “This the true picture of the progressives!”
How could the progressives sink this low? People analyzing the situation will come up with various answers.
I think it is because these politicians have tasted the sweetness of power. In other words, the progressive camp does not want to lose the power they hold now, so are using whatever means they can to win, by show or trickery.
It is my opinion that since the political progressives in Korea have experienced the sweet and sour tastes of power for 10 years since the Kim Dae-jung administration, they have turned into a group with vested interests. Needless to say, the same thing had happened under administrations backed by the military and the conservatives in the past.
The logic of the progressive party candidates these days is strange. One hardly hears statements like, “I will make the people happy by doing this.”
Instead, they mainly say, “We must stop the conservative Grand National Party from coming to power.” It is the politics of subtraction. Sometimes in politics, negative statements rather than positive ones, and hatred rather than love, can be more powerful. There is no need to look far. President Roh, who has used the people’s rage against those with vested interests in our society, is a good example.
However, voters have changed. They have experienced the corrupt politics of conservative forces when they were in power, and also experienced the world where amateurs who did not know much ran wild under progressive administrations. Those who underestimate the Korean people, who have experienced all kinds of hardship, will have to pay dearly.
The progressives often tend to put the blame on others. The people are sick and tired of this. The progressives can still find a way out if they frankly apologize for their mistakes and present an alternative. If they continue to act as they do now, the results will be obvious.
The history of the United States is short, but they have experienced the presidential system much longer than we have. Abraham Lincoln once said, “You may deceive all of the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time, but not all of the people all the time.” Another U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who overcame the Great Depression, said, “There is no force that can resist the power generated by national emotion.”
It will not be easy, but I hope that an event kindles the national emotion during the presidential election this year. Next year will mark the 60th year since the establishment of the republic. It is about time we see it happen.

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

by Kim Chong-hyuk
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