[Viewpoint]Serve, don’t ruleFormer U.S. Vice President Al Gore had an unexpected experience at Reagan National Airport on the afternoon of June 7, 2002 as he headed to the Wisconsin Democratic Party state convention. He was waiting to board a plane to Milwaukee when airport security pulled him aside for a random security check. “Sorry, sir, you have to go through an extra screening,” Gore was told.
As his suitcase was searched, Gore stood patiently. A handful of passengers picked up their cell phones after they passed the screening to tell everyone what they had just seen. Among the witnesses was Mark Graul, chief of staff to Mark Green, a House of Representatives Republican from Green Bay. “People were calling friends: ‘You’re never going to believe what I just saw,’ ” Graul was quoted as saying by local media.
The next day, Gore experienced the same extra security screening as he left Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport. Again he followed the directions of the airport security official. “My understanding is he was randomly selected both times,” said Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera. “And both times he was more than happy, as all Americans are in these troubled times, to cooperate.”
On Jan. 5 of that same year, Representative John D. Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, had to strip down to his pants after the alarm on the metal detector went off. Dingell explained that he had a metal hip because a horse fell on him 20 years before in a hunting accident. The security guards did not buy his explanation and did not recognize the 75-year-old congressman.
They escorted him to a separate room and asked him to remove his clothes down to his underwear. They searched his body with a metal detector, but Dingell did not identify himself as a congressman.
“People are saying they’re not afraid to fly anymore,’’ said Michael Hacker, a spokesman for Dingell, ‘’because if they’re strip-searching congressmen, the skies must be safe.’’
“This shows they’re treating everyone with equal diligence. It’s a matter of security,” Hacker said.
The legislative elections for Korea took place yesterday. Throughout the campaign, the candidates promised the voters that they will be the people’s servants. The Grand Nationals even promoted their party by saying the president is the master and its legislators the junior servants.
The candidates’ eloquent speeches highlighted their “people’s servant” pledges, but how many voters actually trust that? The people have learned a lesson. They have already learned from experience that candidates change their attitude after they become lawmakers. That is why the promise of serving the people as servants did not touch the voters’ hearts.
An incumbent lawmaker recently tried to participate in an event at an elementary school in his district, but was barred by the school’s officials. The lawmaker insulted the school’s vice principal. While the lawmaker denied the allegation, the report to the education office called the lawmaker “rude and arrogant.” A parent who witnessed the incident quoted the lawmaker as saying “I will fire the principal and vice principal of the school.”
Regardless of what the lawmaker said, his conduct must have been seen as arrogant and authoritarian.
Hearing the story, what would the voters have thought about the candidate? Surely they want lawmakers who will work for the people like servants, not rule over them like masters.
The people have seen the indecency of lawmakers many times. There was an incident in which a lawmaker slapped a traffic cop who issued him a ticket. Another lawmaker used foul language to senior members of a local community at the clubhouse of a golf club. He also threw a beer bottle at them.
The voters have seen such incidents, so they might thank the candidates who do not change to ruling masters after they win the elections.
The candidates who win a National Assembly seat should learn a lesson from Gore and Dingell’s airport incidents. It is natural for them to give up their privileges and give the people equal treatment. When Korea’s lawmakers learn a lesson from them, they will be able to win the people’s trust, the most crucial factor in political success.
*The writer is the Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Sang-il