It’s time for judgmentOnly a day remains until the April 15 parliamentary elections. Voters must study the platforms of political parties and candidates to make the best possible choices for the future of the nation. But the final days of the campaign are stained with vulgar language and slander.
Campaigns can be dirty. But this year’s have been the worst. Conservative party candidates caused an uproar with their offensive comments toward the older generation and families of victims from the Sewol ferry sinking. The ruling party joined the bad-mouth campaigning. Baek Won-woo — who served as President Moon Jae-in’s secretary for civil affairs and is campaigning on behalf of a ruling party candidate — called on voters to make judgment on “garbage political parties and politicians,” referring to the opposition parties.
His comment comes after Lee Hae-chan, head of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), called the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) “vulgar” and “heedless.” The leadership of the ruling party, who should discourage candidates from engaging in smear campaigns, has been engaging in more mudslinging. Lee went on to accuse the conservatives of abusing the coronavirus crisis for political gains
The UFP also has invited criticism. Cha Myung-jin, a candidate for the UFP for a district in Bucheon, Gyeonggi, has caused an uproar for his outrageous accusations of alleged sexual acts taking place in the protest tents of bereaved families of Sewol ferry victims of 2014. His former boss, Kim Moon-soo — who heads the election campaign for the Christian Liberal Unification Party — backed his argument. Instead of expelling him, the UFP “advised” Cha to leave the party in the beginning. (In a special meeting Monday, the UFP decided to rid Cha of his candidacy and ousted him from the party.)
Both parties stayed lenient towards reckless campaigns by their candidates and lambasted each other for offending voters and their parties. Hwang Kyo-ahn, head of the UFP, even publicly suspected the ruling party of orchestrating a threat against Oh Se-hoon — a former Seoul mayor and a UFP candidate in a district in Seoul — after a man with a knife was caught in his campaign site.
Mudslinging is a shameful practice of the past. Politicians are underestimating voters if they think voters will buy their claims. They must stop. They must try to appeal through policy. They could face harsh judgment if they go on discrediting the intelligence of voters.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 13, Page 30