[Viewpoint] Creating a real wave takes talentSeventy percent of the Ahn Cheol-soo wave comes from the Honam sentiment, and the rest is from the voters in their 20s to 40s in the capital region. In the Honam region, Ahn’s support rating is over 65 percent. A Democratic United Party insider grumbled, “Honam voters buy no policy proposals. They say they are not interested in policies and only need someone who can defeat Park Geun-hye.” Critics may belittle the wave as “a mirage that only exists in image and language” and “reflective interest from running against Park Geun-hye.” However, all these are politically substantial, and it is hard to beat Ahn’s popularity in the Honam region.
The Saenuri Party is making pitiful attempts to bring down Ahn. They claim that his book was not worth the money, but even less notable politicians hold fancy publishing parties. They also criticize Ahn’s appearance on television shows such as “Healing Camp,” but half of the voters did not know about the candidates in the last general election. They say Ahn’s caliber has not been verified. But not a single president has ended his administration with respect or honor since the Kim Young-sam administration even though they were all vetted.
Since the local election last year, the opposition party has had an advantage in elections. It was a near miracle that the Saenuri Party won the April 11 general election. Despite the blunders of party leaders and mistakes in the nomination process, the Saenuri Party earned 3 percent more votes. The turnout for the general election was 54.3 percent, but it will go up by 10 percent for the presidential election for sure. And everyone knows which party will benefit from a higher turnout.
Ahn’s timing couldn’t have been smarter. The Saenuri Party has nearly become a personal tool for Park Geun-hye’s “corridor politics,” and the Democratic United Party is busy preventing Park Jie-won’s arrest. The Unified Progressive Party has been shredded to ribbons after the controversy involving Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon. All the political vices have emerged at once. So no one can discourage Ahn from pursuing his political career. People call for anti-political politics, and Ahn is either very clever or extremely lucky.
Will his lack of experience keep him from winning? Well, the issuance of bonds with warrant and signing of the petition for SK chairman have already been revealed, but many people still respond generously. They say Ahn is far better than other entrepreneurs who wasted money on lavish parties at private clubs. In fact, we need to go back and think about the mayoral campaign of Park Won-soon. He faced far more damaging attacks such as speculation of military evasion through adoption and his son’s MRI controversy. However, Park’s support rating did not budge, and he won the election.
Ahn’s book has displayed considerable power. Some leftist scholars say that they thought the former venture CEO would not understand the position of the workers, but his book was beyond expectations. The young voters who raved about Ahn’s Youth Concert say that they have been systematically baptized again. Even the homemakers in the posh Gangnam area say the book’s arguments are valid. His background in medicine and the software industry has appealed to both left and right.
Of course, it is a bit coy for him to stay out of the game for so long. During a painful period, hoping for a messiah may be a pathological phenomenon of the society. However, politicians should not fear or condemn Ahn’s rise. The policy battle between the ruling and opposition parties has always been the same. We are living in the age of political consumption. No one reads the manual first before buying a product. Consumers make decisions based on design and quality. Ahn’s wave is strong, and sometimes, creating a wave takes real talent.
* The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Chul-ho