Self-deception and Public Deception: How will the DPP reclaim the Mandate of Heaven?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 14, 2008
The Democratic Progressive Party has lost its status as the largest party in the Republic of China legislature. It is now a small party with only 27 seats. That's hardly the worst of it. The DPP has lost its status as spokesman for "native values," for "democracy," and for "Taiwanese values." That is what dealt the DPP its fatal wound.
The United Daily News noted this in yesterday's editorial. Even during the "dang wai" (party outsider) era, when the political opposition was weak, it had an aura of moral legitimacy and idealism. Today, by contrast, the DPP has not merely become a small party with less than a quarter of the seats in the legislature, it has lost its political idealism and its political legitimacy. For the DPP, that is its real tragedy.
Chen Shui-bian has turned the chairmanship of the party over to Frank Hsieh. But many observers feel that in style and temperament, Chen and Hsieh are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The two differ only in their packaging. Therefore, whether Frank Hsieh has the ability to lead the DPP down the path toward genuine reform remains a huge question.
The DPP lost the election because it lost the Mandate of Heaven. It lost its idealism and its legitimacy. The DPP's "championing of democracy" was once one of its selling points. But look at how it has undermined the rule of law. Look at how it has become the bane of democracy. So-called "nativism" was once one of the DPP's selling points. But its rampant corruption has made it an detriment to nativism. The DPP's championing of Taiwan independence was once its "jewel in the crown." But its reckless brinksmanship has left Washington and Taipei at loggerheads. The DPP has torn society apart and discredited Taiwan independence as a political movement. The public has repudiated the DPP's boast that it represents the will of the people and the values of the community. Today, Chen is stepping down and Hsieh is stepping up. The Democratic Progressive Party's primary mission should be to reclaim its idealism and political legitimacy. It needs to reclaim its lost mandate.
The DPP's most fundamental character defect is its prediliction for self-deception. The proximate cause of its recent debacle at the polls is Chen Shui-bian's self-deception. The long term cause is Lin I-hsiung. Lin I-hsiung demanded that the legislature be halved in size, and that it adopt a Single Member District, Two Ballot System. It was rumored that one reason Lin wanted this system was that it would prevent "wai sheng ren" (mainlanders) from being elected to the legislature and ensure the future of the "nativist path." Events however have confirmed that such a system won't necessarily exclude "mainlanders." If anything, its adoption has resulted in the wholesale repudiation of the Democratic Progressive Party's so-called "nativist path." And so it is with the DPP's Nuclear Free policy. Opposition to nuclear power may be idealistic. But if one is in the midst of an energy crisis, one can hardly ignore practical concerns. Lin I-hsiung exploited his saintly image within the Green camp to demand a Nuclear Free island. The public was moved. But energy policy after all, is not merely a moral issue. It is also a practical issue.
The DPP has marched itself into a blind alley precisely because it has engaged in self-deception. It is the victim of its own self-induced hypnotic spell. Take Taiwan independence for example. Taiwan independence may involve idealism. but also requires wisdom. Whatever legitimacy Taiwan independence might have accrued in its moral account, has been swiped to the limit by the Democratic Progressive Party. The DPP has ripped apart society and the nation. It has put Washington and Taipei at loggerheads with each other. Yet the DPP still considers itself the voice of Taiwan independence. It still believes it has the right to "champion" Taiwan independence, by any means at its disposal. This is how the Taiwan independence movement is deceiving itself and deceiving others.
Look at the Democratic Progressive Party over the past four years. Look at Chen Shui-bian's rampant corruption. Yet the DPP persists in regarding itself as the standard-bearer for clean government. Look at how the DPP has undermined relations between Washington and Taipei. Look at the people's suffering. Yet the DPP imagines it can shift the focus of public attention by having the CEC package-deal its phony "Join the UN" plebiscite with the presidential election. Society has been ripped apart. Blood flows in the streets. Yet the DPP persists in its rabid anti-Chiang campaign. To top matters off, the DPP sicced its attack dogs on the public: Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng, Government Information Office Chief Hsieh Chi-wei, and General Secretary of the Ministry of Education Chuang Kuo-jung. They carried out the DPP's dirty deeds. So this is what "native values" were all about? So this was the DPP's conception of democracy? So this was what the DPP meant by "Taiwanese values?" This election gave the DPP an answer: You can deceive yourselves, but you cannot deceive the people.
If Frank Hsieh and the DPP are searching for Heaven's Mandate, they must cease attempting to deceive the people. Not deceiving the people means not deceiving yourself. Is the DPP willing to forsake its Quixotic "Resolution for a Normal Nation" and return to its more pragmatic "Resolution on Taiwan's Future?" Is the DPP willing to stop demagoguing the phony "Join the UN Plebiscite" and earnestly confront the real challenges of governance? These are Chen Shui-bian's axes to grind. They ought to disappear along with Chen.
It is said that over the past year Chen Shui-bian took the DPP hostage. In fact the DPP was in a self-induced hypnotic trance. It deceived itself. It allowed itself to be taken hostage. Is the Chen Shui-bian Path the Democratic Progressive Party's elixir of life? Is the DPP the flag bearer of political justice and "Taiwanese values?"
Chen Shui-bian has announced his withdrawal from the DPP chairmanship. Frank Hsieh and the DPP must stop attempting to deceive the people. The DPP must not continue down the Chen Shui-bian path under another name. More importantly, Frank Hsieh must not be allowed to become "Chen Shui-bian the Second."
2008.01.14 11:03 am