James Soong, Why Not Run For President?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 29, 2011
James Soong recently made a bold move. To understand his motives, we must consider the impact of his move on the January 2012 two-in-one election and on the future of the Republic of China.
James Soong said his goal was to win three seats for the People First Party in the Legislative Yuan, and to form a three man PFP party caucus. Does the PFP have the ability to form a three man PFP party caucus? This is not necessarily the key to the political future of the ROC. The question being asked of voters in the current election is, should they remain loyal to the Republic of China and the Republic of China Constitution? Should the government maintain its current cross-Strait policy? Or should it adopt an entirely different strategic policy path? Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen represent two vastly different policy paths. Therefore this election has enormous significance for the future of the ROC, The issues are, should the ROC change its strategic path? Should the ROC change its president? Should the president elect change the strategic path of the ROC, via the Legislative Yuan? The issue is not whether the PFP can form a three man PFP party caucus.
If James Soong runs for president, in the hope of influencing the strategic direction of the ROC, he is well within his rights. How well he can do in the election is not the issue, But suppose he is unable to offer a strategic direction that transcends those offered by Ma Ying-jeou and Tsai Ing-wen? Suppose his goal is merely to stir up the pot, or to establish a three man PFP party caucus? Never mind whether he has the ability. If that is his goal, he is not justified in doing so. Because the question of whether to adopt a new strategic direction transcends the question of whether the PFP is able to form a three man PFP party caucus. Is James Soong's real goal to alter the strategic direction of the ROC? If it is not, then stirring the pot and forming a three man PFP party caucus hardly justifies what he is doing.
What is the purpose of forming a three man PFP party caucus? Is it to enable the DPP's Chou Po-ya to become Deputy Speaker of the Taipei City Council? Is it to enable the Legislative Yuan to make Chen Tsung-ming Prosecutor General? Is it to pave the way for a "Tsai/Soong Meeting," as a follow up to the "Bian/Soong Meeting?" Is it to enable a three man PFP party caucus to play the role of a decisive minority in the legislature? What will the strategic impact on the nation and society be? Suppose Soong's move subverts the strategic picture? Suppose it changes our strategtic direction? Is that James Soong's real goal?
Soong obviously opposes Ma and hates Ma. But he is unwilling to be honest about his motives. This is why James Soong keeps advancing reasons for what he is doing. James Soong can run for president. All he needs to do is launch a petition drive. Green Camp voters will automatically, spontaneously support his candidacy. His candidacy will be assured. No matter what the outcome of the election is, no matter whether Soong wins or Tsai wins, Soong will have fulfilled his goal. He will have exacted revenge on Ma Ying-jeou. James Soong is not running for president. But he is still splitting Blue Camp votes. If he runs for president with the express intention of stirring the pot, Soong will become Blue Camp Public Enemy Number One, He can forget about any three man PFP party caucus. If the People First Party fields candidates for the legislature left and right, it will be publicly admitting that it is merely stirring the pot, that it is not running for office, but merely acting as a spoiler.
James Soong is opposed to Ma and angry at Ma. But he cannot deny the success of Ma Ying-jeou's strategic path. If the PFP considers Ma Ying-jeou's strategic path to be generally correct, why must it set up a three man PFP party caucus? Why must it deliberately create chaos and wreak havoc? What justification does it have? What reasons can it offer? James Soong may be unhappy with King Pu-tsung, But that is no reason to create chaos and subvert the strategic picture.
James Soong's actions are destructive rather than constructive. He hopes merely to foil Ma Ying-jeou's bid for a second term, or to hurt him in the legislative elections, all for the sake of his three man PFP party caucus. His approach is to split the Blue Camp, to wrap his fingers around Ma Ying-jeou's neck. The inevitable result would be a windfall for Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP, Tsai could topple Ma as president. The DPP could gain control of the Legislative Yuan. The election could change the nation's helmsman, and the nation's strategic direction. No one is suggesting that James Soong cannot support Tsai Ing-wen. No one can forbid James Soong to meet with Ah-Bian. But Soong must explain his reasons for bringing down Ma Ying-jeou and helping up Tsai Ing-wen. Does he really think that a three man PFP party caucus, in exchange for subverting the strategic direction of the ROC, constitutes a reasonable political trade off?
James Soong may wish to distinguish between his path and Ma Ying-jeou's, He may wish to advance his own strategic vision. Ma Ying-jeou advocates "no [immediate] reunification." The PFP may choose to advocate "reunification," in the hope of attracting votes from elderly veterans. But can James Soong really champion reunification merely by forming a three man PFP party caucus? And if the final result is that Ma steps down and Tsai steps up, will Tsai's positions on national identity, constitutional allegiance, and cross-Strait policy more closely approximate those held by elderly veterans? Is this not a fraud perpetrated upon elderly veterans?
Besides, consider the worst case scenario. The KMT loses its legislative majority, Ma Ying-jeou loses his bid for reelection. The PFP fails in its attempt to form a three man PFP party caucus.
Ma Ying-jeou's record is far from satisfactory. Tsai Ing-wen's record is not without its achievements. The biggest difference between the two has nothing to do with their public images, but with their strategic paths. If James Soong runs for president, and defeats both Ma and Tsai, he may be able to influence the ROC's strategic direction. But if Soong cannot defeat Ma and Tsai, he must choose between two strategic paths, the KMT's and the DPP's. He must choose between Ma and Tsai. This is a choice each and every voter must make in the general election of January next year. James Soong is no exception. Any three man PFP party caucus must also have a strategic direction.
During next year's elections, the strategic direction of the ROC is more important than any personal grudges. It is more important than 2.4 billion NT, It is more important than any three man PFP party caucus. No one is saying that James Soong cannot subvert the strategic picture, and bring down Ma Ying-jeou. But Soong must make clear whether this is what he really wants. Is James Soong really concerned about three seats in the Legislative Yuan? Or is he merely attempting to subvert the strategic picture? If he is really concerned about three seats in the Legislative Yuan, he does not need to create so much chaos. He should be able to achieve his purpose some other way.
Is James Soong not running for president, but merely attempting to bring down Ma Ying-jeou? Or is James Soong running for president, in order to bring down Ma Ying-jeou? Either way, the results will be exactly the same. In which case, James Soong might as well run for president. Because if Soong runs for president and brings down Ma, Soong might just win. This might make a meaningful difference to the strategic path taken by the ROC.
James Soong opposes Ma and hates Ma. But he must not allow his feelings to overwhelm his concern for the future of the ROC.