Political rationality countsToday is election day and the decision is up to the voters. Since the ruling Grand National Party (now Saenuri Party) established an emergency leadership council at the end of last year and the main opposition Democratic Party (now Democratic United Party) formed a coalition to brace for the legislative election, voters finally face a moment of decision.
However, both parties’ political campaigns stopped much short of our expectations. Despite a fervent call for political reform, they repeated old-fashioned politicking from the start. Regardless of its name change and the liberal slogan of “economic democratization,” the Saenuri Party was a re-establishment based on pro-Park Geun-hye faction. Despite a vow to recreate the DP, the DUP, too, is heavily bent on Roh Moo-hyun loyalists and former anti-government student activists. Both parties also shied away from their commitment to uphold the touted principle of bottom-up nomination.
The DUP exposed many loopholes in the process of merging with the far-left Unified Progressive Party. After having adapted opinion polls to assign districts to each party, Lee Jung-hee, co-chairwoman of the UPP, engaged in foul play by manipulating the poll results. When she bowed out of the race, a familiar controversy - over the existence of followers of juche (self-reliance) ideology inside the UPP - also erupted.
Inappropriate nominations only make voters confused, as seen by the simmering controversies over a DUP candidate’s raunchy remarks on women and senior citizens and a Saenuri Party candidate’s plagiarizing his doctoral paper.
All that testifies to the outmoded nature of our politics. According to a poll, half of those who would refrain from voting this time said they would do so because their vote will not make a difference in the distorted political terrain. Yet voting is the only means to change it.
The act of voting should also take root in voters’ reason, not emotion. Of course, it may be hard to find room for rationality amid a virulent war of condemnation and mudslinging. In particular, social network platforms - which were first allowed as a campaign tool - changed the stream of information at the speed of light for the worse in most of the cases.
Before going to the polling stations, voters should calm down and make a rational decision. Only when they examine candidates’ campaign promises and personality meticulously can the age of a genuine democracy come. And before passively waiting for a political change, they must be willing bring the change - by voting.