Reinventing our conservative partyThe government, which has been under conservative presidents and parties for the last nine years, has gone to the liberal Democratic Party after its candidate Moon Jae-in won the election on Tuesday. The crushing defeat of Hong Joon-pyo and the Liberty Korea Party (formerly the Saenuri Party) is no surprise. The mainstream that blindly served the former president was blamed for losing last year’s general election because of their preferential nominations. Even as they were responsible for losing the majority to the opposition, they did not change their highhanded ways and fell with the impeached president.
After changing its name, the party also stripped Park loyalists of party titles, but Hong reinstated them a few days before the election. The party was not that different from the self-indulgent and impotent one under the former president. Hong failed to extend his gains in support during the final stages of the race, largely due to his failure to recreate the conservative party.
Any party can lose in an election. But the party has no future if it does not learn from its defeat. The party must admit defeat and learn that its arrogance and narrow-mindedness was what brought about its fall. Conservative values are based on responsibility, devotion and compassion for the weak to safeguard security and the community. But the values were destroyed under former President Park Geun-hye and the conservatism have now become associated with the corruption of the elites.
The conservatives have turned into the opposition. Their first mission should be to restore conservative values. The party must demonstrate responsibility and should divorce itself from the faction of Park loyalists and establish a reform agenda.
It must cooperate with the new government. It should not resort to its old ways of knee-jerk opposition starting with the confirmation on nominees to the cabinet and senior government members. The conservative party can renew its image if it acts differently. Yoo Seong-min of minority conservative Bareun Party should be applauded for finishing the race even after 10 of his party’s members bolted to support Hong. He has been unwavering in his beliefs and shown conviction behind his policies during the TV debates.
Such figures could help to reform the conservative camp and revive hope for conservative values. Society must run on both conservative and liberal values. A strong conservative pillar is necessary for the balanced development of the Korean political community.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 10, Page 30