DP needs to be practical

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DP needs to be practical

The main opposition Democratic Party will elect new leadership at a party convention on Oct. 3 that can determine its chances at the next presidential election with the Lee Myung-bak administration now halfway into its five-year term. The primary election will be pivotal in recreating the liberal party that has fumbled in ideological excess and identity crisis during the last two years.

It failed to look inward and reinvent itself even after crushing defeats in presidential and general elections. It exploited public protests over the mad-cow scare soon after Lee took office by boycotting the National Assembly and leading unauthorized and violent rallies.

The party turned the government’s proposed legislation to realign the media industry into an ideological fight between the conservatives and liberals. It displayed knee-jerk opposition to the government’s ambitious plans, including the project to dam and recreate four major rivers. It was haunted by North Korean sympathizers and it turned down a National Assembly resolution to condemn North Korea for its torpedo attack on the South Korean naval ship Cheonan. The party lost direction after losing two pillars - former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

It won three by-elections and local elections largely because of public disappointment in the government and the ruling party rather than for its own merits. Its defeat in the by-election in July underscored its limitation.

Many voters longing for a formidable opposition party hope to see a metamorphosis into a creative and reform-minded party. But sadly, the same names vying for party leadership fail to inspire.

The so-called Big Three - former party chairmen Chung Se-kyun and Sohn Hak-kyu as well as former presidential candidate Chung Dong-young - can hardly be expected to present a new vision and change for the party. Instead of envisioning new leadership, they will likely repeat the same old blame game during the campaign period.

The other six candidates are hardly any better. They fail to touch upon the party’s weaknesses and present solutions to fix the problems. All they appear to be concerned about are their odds in matchmaking and consolidating power.

In order not to further waver in the ideological wind, the DP must set its eyes on practicality and public interests instead of going in the opposite direction of the government.

The party cannot win broad support if it fails to present new leadership and a platform in pursuit of reform and change. It must fill the convention with outbursts for self-realization and determination for change. We long to hear inspirational platforms from the candidates.
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