Election victors need the vanquished
I was surprised by the exit polls of three broadcasters. They were official statistics from the National Election Commission, but the turnout of the voters in their 50s was 89.9 percent. I am in my 50s and I voted, but the turnout was far higher than expected. In the 17th presidential election, 76.6 percent of voters in their 50s went to the polls. For the 16th election, one of the most intense in history, it was 83.7 percent. Except for those who are hospitalized or have limited mobility, nearly everyone seemed to have voted. My son is in college, and he came home the day before the election. I did not ask for whom he voted, and he did not ask me. However, middle-aged voters seem to be far more passionate about the election than the younger generation.
The morning of the Election Day, an 88-year-old man was hit by a train on his way to vote in Wonju, Gangwon. In Changwon, South Gyeongnam, a woman in her 70s suffering a heart attack, collapsed in the garden and died after casting her vote in the cold weather. A relative in his late 80s who was staying with his son’s family went back to his hometown a few days ago to vote. Where did this unprecedented voting boom among seniors originate?
Park Geun-hye earned 15,773,128 votes and Moon Jae-in got 14,692,632 votes. Moon Jae-in lost the election, but he earned 3.2 million votes more than President Lee Myung-bak in 2007. When broadcasters began to report about 9 p.m. that Park Geun-hye was the likely winner, a filmmaker posted on Twitter: “The doomsday is coming on Dec. 21. It is our hope.” Supporters expressed their disappointment on Facebook: “I went to bed, hoping to see a reversal, but it did not change in the morning.” They woke up devastated.
Upon winning the Battle of Waterloo, General Wellington of England said, “There is nothing so dreadful as a great victory - except a great defeat.” King Pyrrhus of Epirus won a battle against the Romans, but suffered serious casualties. “One more such victory would utterly undo us,” he said. We call a victory that brings excessive loss as a result a Pyrrhic victory.
Park Geun-hye was wise to emphasize reconciliation and integration after the victory. “Moon and I share the same devotion toward the Republic of Korea and its people,” she said. The world of power is not all romantic, and a certain leadership group is needed in reality.
But values of generosity and tolerance are greatly appreciated. The defeated candidate and his supporters should celebrate and help the winner. Even the greatest leadership cannot accomplish much without the support of the losers and their followers.
*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun