Defeat Amidst Victory, Victory Amidst Defeat
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 29, 2010
Executive Summary: Regarding the five cities elections, the most incisive observation has been that the KMT experienced "defeat amidst victory", and the DPP "victory amidst defeat." Victory contains the seeds of defeat. Defeat contains the seeds of victory. The KMT has experienced "defeat amidst victory." It should seek victory amidst defeat. The DPP has experienced "victory amidst defeat." It should seek to avoid defeat amidst victory.
Full Text below:
Regarding the five cities elections, the most incisive observation has been that the KMT experienced "defeat amidst victory", and the DPP "victory amidst defeat."
The KMT held onto to three cities in the north. But during its victorious 2008 presidential campaign it received 1.1 million votes more than the DPP. This time it received 400,000 fewer votes than the DPP. Altogether, it received 1.5 million fewer votes than before. In two cities in the south, it suffered landslide defeats. Hence, the characterization, "defeat amidst victory." By contrast, Although the DPP was unable to beat the odds in the north, it received 1.5 million more votes than in 2008. It also made major gains in the number of city council seats held. The two cities in the south remain Green Camp bastions. Hence, the characterization, "victory amidst defeat."
But the night the ballots were tallied, history had already been rewritten. The criteria for victory in the five cities elections, may not be the criteria for victory in the 2012 presidential election. By then, how the candidates are measured against one other may have changed. The issues may have changed. The level on which the campaigns are conducted may have changed. Therefore the criteria for victory may also have changed. When Ma Ying-jeou runs for reelection, will the KMT have lost so many votes since the five cities election, that it will also lose the presidential election? Conversely, will Tsai Ing-wen, assuming she is the DPP candidate, have gained so many votes since the five cities elections that she wins the presidential election? The answer should be clear. Nothing is impossible. But nothing is guaranteed.
The five cities elections are, after all, different from the presidential election. During the recent five cities elections, the DPP avoided all discussion of national identity and cross-Strait issues. But during the presidential election it cannot avoid these two issues. The DPP opposes the "1992 consensus." But during the presidential election, it must reiterate whether it opposes the "1992 consensus." During the five cities elections, the DPP can say that "ECFA is a central government issue." But during the presidential election, the DPP must respond. Does it intend to honor ECFA? If so, how? If it opposes the "1992 consensus, how can it possibly honor ECFA? In the five cities elections, the DPP put its "Platform for the Coming Decade" on hold. But can it refuse to reintroduce it during the presidential election?
The DPP's current "victory" was won mainly on the basis of well-executed campaign tactics, and Tsai Ing-wen's apparently moderate public image. But these were the thinnest of political masks. The DPP has yet to alter either its fundamental ideology or its innate character. Su Tseng-chang held an evening rally to thank supporters in his unsuccessful bid for Taipei Mayor. Hundreds of young people stayed on after the rally concluded. Were they there to listen to the musicians, or to Su Tseng-chang? Clearly the DPP must get back to basics.
The increase in DPP votes can be attributed to the "Deep Green biological mother" plus "swing voters wet nurse" phenomenon mentioned in one of our recent editorials. On the one hand, the DPP's deft campaign tactics attracted a number of swing voters who hope desperately that the DPP will undergo a complete metamorphosis. On the other hand, Chen Chih-chung's "one nation on each side connection" consolidated support from Deep Green Taiwan independence extremists, who remain deeply embedded within the genetic makeup of the DPP. These divergent sources of support and conflicting expectations mean that when the DPP makes appeals to national identity and cross-Strait policy, it is caught on the horns of a dilemma. These internal contradictions will put the party to the test during the 2012 presidential election, at which time it will no longer be able to duck the issues. Therefore, one has to ask whether the victory scored during the five cities elections will be repeated during the presidential election?
The DPP may achieve victory in the 2012 presidential election through sophisticated campaign tactics. But if it continues relying on both its "biological mother" and its "swing voter wet nurse" to win elections, how can it govern while it holds these internal contradictions? Chen Shui-bian's eight year regime was a nightmare. The DPP "won the election, but lost its values." It was a "technical victory, but a substantive defeat." It showed the public that the DPP "knew only how to win elections, but not how to govern the nation." This has always been the case. Suppose the DPP replicates its five cities "victory amidst defeat" during its 2012 presidential campaign? At most it will experience the same fate as Chen Shui-bian. In the end it will merely experience "defeat amidst victory."
Now let's look at the KMT. The Ma administration's most important contribution over the past two and a half years, has been the establishment of a clear framework for national identity and cross-Strait policy. This framework has a close relationship to the survival of Taiwan's economy. It includes the "1992 consensus," "one China, different interpretations," "no reunification, no independence, no use of force," a diplomatic truce, direct flights, allowing Mainland tourists to visit Taiwan, ECFA, and enabling ROC citizens to visit over 100 countries without the need for visas. This framework may be imperfect. It may involve well-recognized risks. But the ROC has no alternative. By contrast, Taiwan Independence is utterly infeasible. It is a concept fast being relegated to the history books. So why are so many people still addicted to Taiwan independence ideology?
The Ma administration should apply itself to the following policies. On the one hand it must explain to the public on Taiwan how such a framework defends their interests and upholds their dignity. It must persuade people through deeds. On the other hand it must increase public support for our national identity as ROC citizens, and increase public discussion of cross-Strait issues. If it allows the DPP to monopolize the role of "champion of Taiwan" and to obtain a patent on "loving Taiwan," it will never be able to allay Deep Green concerns about "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." The KMT lost many hearts and minds in the south. The Ma administration's policies may be correct. But it may lose the presidential election nevertheless. As mentioned earlier, Chen Shui-bian "won the election, but lose the DPP's values." Ma Ying-jeou could "retain the KMT's values, but lose the election."
Victory contains the seeds of defeat. Defeat contains the seeds of victory. The KMT has experienced "defeat amidst victory." It should seek victory amidst defeat. The DPP has experienced "victory amidst defeat." It should seek to avoid defeat amidst victory.