Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Politics of Spite and the Democracy of Hatred

The Politics of Spite and the Democracy of Hatred
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 13, 2009

DPP Taipei City Council Member Hung Chien-yi and an FTV reporter are suspected of destroying an entrance gate to the Maokung Cable Car. Their motive? To fabricate an excuse to lambast the Taipei City Government. The city government has reported the crime to the police and supplied evidence in the form of video recordings. That dirty politics has descended to this level is mind-boggling.
The City of Chicago failed to win its bid to hold the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Amazingly conservatives in the United States were overjoyed. They shouted: "Obama lost! Obama lost!" Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman spoke of the "politics of spite." He likened it to the childish behavior of a 13-year-old child.

Because they hated Obama, conservatives wished his administration ill. They even viewed the U.S. defeat in its bid for the Olympics as an occasion for celebration. The sentiments of some in the Republican party can only be described as twisted. Such scenarios are unfortunately all too familiar to people on Taiwan. People on Taiwan have lived amidst the politics of spite for years. Their plight is a hundred times more serious. After all, the United States' bid for the Olympics failed. The Republicans had reason to deride Obama. By contrast Hung Chien-yi's act of sabotage was sheer spite.

Democracy has regressed. Its downward trajectory is not hard to trace. When Obama was elected president, the world felt the United States had reclaimed some of its lost spirit. But the defeated Republican Party began behaving ever more childishly. Its behavior is dong America's democracy no good whatsoever. On Taiwan, the second change in ruling parties was a big step for democracy. But the defeated Democratic Progressive Party seems to have forgotten that politics is a mission that is supposed to serve the people. Instead it does everything possible to make life difficult for the ruling administration. It even spreads rumors and fabricates incidents. It seems to feel that by doing so it can exact some measure of revenge. What becomes of the national interest when partisan infighting descends to such levels?

Over the past few months, the ruling and opposition parties have seldom reached a consensus on important national issues. They have seldom engaged in shared decision-making. Interaction between the two parties has involved making mountains out of molehills. The most obvious example is how the Green Camp took advantage of the 8/8 Floods to invite the Dalai Lama to Taiwan, hoping to make trouble for the ruling KMT and to undermine cross-Strait relations. In effect it "took advantage of the floods to engage in looting." Its appetite whetted by the Dalai Lama's visit, it then invited Rebiyah Kadeer and Li Hongzhi. During the DPP's eight years in office, it never even mentioned Xinjiang. Now, in an effort to embarrass the Ma administration, it is suddenly trumpeting Rebiyah Kadeer as a champion of human rights, as if by doing so it could add a little shine to the Green Camp's halo. But such short-sighted moves are just a little too heavy handed.

Democracy requires checks and balances. But checks and balances is not synonymous with obstructionism. That is an outright distortion of the meaning of checks and balances. The purpose of checks and balances to avoid the monopolization of political power by an elite. Taiwan's current problem is not any lack of checks and balances. Its problem is obstructionism running wild, and the politics of spite running amok. Its problme is political gridlock. Many national policies require rational discussion. But the opposition DPP refuses to engage in dialogue. Instead it invests all its energy in inciting artificial controversies over irrelevancies, squandering the energies of the nation and the people. Over time this has weakened the nation's momentum. Mutual hatreds and suspicions have been intensified, tarnishing the nation's reputation.

Such is the damage inflicted by the politics of spite. When politicians' hearts are consumed with jealousy and hatred, they forget the purpose of democracy. They even forget the value of right and wrong. When Chicago lost its bid for the Olympics, Republicans actually cheered. This is even more frightening than anti-American sentiment. Meanwhile, during the 8/8 Flood on Taiwan, the Green Camp accused the Ma administration of incompetence. The Blue Camp accused Green Camp led local governments of dereliction of duty. Under the politics of spite, who cares about the victims? Who bothers to uncover the causes of the disaster?

Now look at Chen Shui-bian. In order to escape incarceration, he has actually claimed that during his two terms in office, he was "acting on orders from the United States." He demoted Taiwan to the level of a territory administered by the United States Military Government. The "Son of Taiwan," after eight years of emptying out the nation's coffers, has in one fell swoop repudiated the nation's sovereignty. This sets a new low for the politics of spite.

The DPP was in power for eight years, during which it incited the "democracy of hatred." Now that it is again in the opposition, it is again resorting to "obstructionism motivated by spite." It refuses to play a constructive role within the framework of democracy. The Green Camp needs to engage in some serious soul-searching over Hung Chien-yi's antics. The "politics of spite" and the "democracy of hatred" have now reached new lows.

2009.10.13 04:28 am










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