The DPP Must Do More Than Offer A Pie in the Sky
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 23, 2011
Yesterday Su Tseng-chang declared his candidacy in the Democratic Progressive Party presidential primary. On Sunday he revealed the first plank in his campaign platform. He joined the anti-nuclear march, and endorsed the decommissioning of Nuclear Plants One, Two, and Three, and a halt to construction on Nuclear Plant Four.
Herein lies one of the fundamental problems with the DPP -- its inconsistency and constant waffling. It opposes nuclear power generation. But during its eight years in power, it first halted, then resumed construction on Nuclear Plant Four. The premier at the time was Su Tseng-chang. The vice premier at the time was Tsai Ing-wen. At the time, Su never gave a second thought to halting construction. Yet now he is calling for the total abolition of nuclear power generation. By the same token, during the DPP's eight years in power, it championed the Five Noes, it upheld the Republic of China, It put on a good show, swearing allegiance up and down. On the other hand, it championed the "rectification of names" and the "referendum to join the UN." It blanked out Chen Shui-bian's reluctant admission that "if it can't be done, it can't be done." Yet now the "one nation on each side connection" has become an influential faction within the party, a tail that wags the dog.
A nuclear-free homeland is of course a desirable goal. But the DPP was in power for eight years. Why did it do nothing to establish a non-nuclear homeland? Nor is Taiwan independence and the founding of a new nation inconceivable. Why did the DPP do nothing during its eight years in power, other than engage in self-deception and deception of others?
All three DPP presidential hopefuls have the temerity to prattle on about "the future." Annette Lu, who withdrew at the moment of truth, boasted of a "grand future for Taiwan and the world." Tsai Ing-wen proclaimed that "I have heard the voice of Taiwan: It calls to the new generation, and urges them to seize the future." Su Tseng-chang meanwhile, spoke of "facing the future, with our feet on the ground." But the DPP was in power for eight years. Did it not promise to seize the future back then? Yesterday's future has become today's past. The DPP's non-nuclear future never came to pass. Its dream of Taiwan independence lies in ruins. The stench of DPP corruption assaults our nostrils. Yet it is now demanding another chance, a chance to lead us toward some sort of "grand future." What sort of bizarre political experiment does it intend to inflict upon us this time around?
This is perhaps the DPP's most important trait. The DPP ignores the past. How did it manage to leave such a mess after eight years in office? The DPP ignores the present, Does it recognize the 1992 Consensus? Does it intend to "continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy?" The DPP recognizes only "the future." Two thousand years ago, the "Li Yun Datong" made far more spectacular promises than the DPP. We hardly need Su and Tsai to paint us a "grand future" pie in the sky.
Su and Tsai both talk of the future. But is there really any difference between the futures they promise? Each boasts that his or her future is better than the other's. But might not they announce a Tsai/Su ticket or Su/Tsai ticket in the blink of an eye? Might not they call for "unity," in order to divvy up the power and the loot? In fact, if we look at the declarations they made during the party primary, it is hard to see any real difference between the futures they promised. Tsai boasts about ushering in a "new generation," but merely to underscore her relative youth. Su boasts of "transcendence," but merely to underscore his seniority, and how well he has kept up with the times. But if we examine the two candidates' rhetoric more closely, what do we find besides empty talk? How does the two candidates' rhetoric differ from past DPP rhetoric? How does the two candidates' rhetoric differ from each other? The two candidates are afraid to face up to the DPP's past. All they can do is reflexively criticize the status quo, Can they really lead the DPP and the ROC to any sort of future by this alone?
Tsai and Su made ringing proclamations about the future during the party primary. They even did so during their introductions. Tsai addressed young students. Su responded to questions from college girls. Both invoked Yang Shu-chung, sitting on the ground weeping during the Guangzhou Asian Games. Both dodged questions about cross-Strait relations. Tsai Ing-wen failed to utter a single word about Mainland policy. Su Tseng-chang argued against the introduction of "novelty and oddity" in cross-Strait matters." Both candidates denounced the Ma administration's three year term as devoid of merit. But neither drew any honest comparisons with the DPP's eight years in office. The two candidates rhapsodized about a Brave New World. But neither offered any clue as to how they would realize their Utopias.
Su and Tsai both need to answer for their eight years in office. They both need to offer comprehensive strategies for the nation's survival. They cannot merely fantasize about a rosy future. After all, the people have already experienced eight years of the future promised them by the DPP.
Annette Lu has pulled out of the race. She has ended her controversial political career. She had the good fortune to occupy a position in which she could have leveraged her political influence to maximum advantage. Alas, her personality quirks prevented her from fully exploiting her good fortune. She was Vice President of the Republic of China for eight years. As we look back at her years in office, we realize how absurd and terrifying politics can be, and we no longer know whether to laugh or to cry.