The DPP is Becoming a Hollow Shell
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
January 29, 2014
Summary: The DPP faces a major crisis. It is becoming a hollow shell. Ko Wen-je refused to join the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen established cross-strait communications channels outside the framework of the party. These and other developments are all warning signs.
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The DPP faces a major crisis. It is becoming a hollow shell. Ko Wen-je refused to join the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen established cross-strait communications channels outside the framework of the party. These and other developments are all warning signs.
Ko Wen-je refused to join the DPP. He thinks that if he runs for Taipei Mayor as a DPP candidate, he will not be able to attract non-Green Camp support. He went so far as to say that if he doesn't join the party before the election, he is not about to join the party after he is elected. This is Ko Wen-je's election strategy. He has retained his political momentum even after raising this controversy. The DPP may well be compelled to yield. This is a bizzare development worth watching. Ko Wen-je put down the DPP in order to elevate himself. The DPP could only sit and watch as Ko Wen-je heaped all manner of humiliation upon it. Ko Wen-je single-handedly overrode the nomination rules stipulated by the DPP party charter. He left the party stranded, high and dry. Is this not incredible?
Tsai Ing-wen is Ko Wen-je redux. In 2000, she became a Chen administration cabinet member, even though she was not a party member. In 2004, she became a DPP legislator without portfolio, then joined the party. In 2008, after only four years as a DPP party member, she was elected party chairman. Today she and Su Tseng-chang are locked in a battle for the 2016 DPP presidential nomination. She successfully demoted DPP Chairman Su's Huashan Conference "China Policy Summary Report" to a "China Policy Review Minutes." She dispatched a delegation from her Thinking Taiwan Foundation to the Mainland. Su Tseng-chang could not force Tsai Ing-wen to merge her cross-strait policy into official DPP cross-strait policy. Tsai Ing-wen, by contrast was able to establish her own "outside the party" policy agenda. Tsai Ing-wen ignored Su Tseng-chang and left the DPP party leadership stranded, high and dry.
Ko and Tsai have something in common. Both reject party strictures. Both have established their own power base outside party strictures, Ko Wen-je is running for Taipei Mayor. He takes pride in his refusal to join the party. The DPP, by contrast, finds itself led around by the nose. Tsai Ing-wen is running for president. She has established her own cross-strait communicaiton channel outside the DPP party framework. She intends to ignore the party framework. The party leadership can only grin and bear it. Consider these two cases. If this does not represent a hollowing out of the DPP party framework, what does?
Ko and Tsai have cast off the party framework. Yet consider the public reaction. People are applauding Ko and Tsai, and booing Chairman Su. This is the first time that DPP rebels have prevailed over the DPP leadership. Hsu Hsing-liang, Shi Ming-teh, and the Eleven Brigands were defeated. So why has the authority and legitimacy of the DPP been undermined to such a degree? Because the party leadership's core values and core interests no longer offer them an advantage. Therefore they have handed others the reigns of power.
The DPP party leadership has lost its authority and legitimacy. This is the result of a long-term erosion of moral authority, moral legitimacy, ideological credibility, policy credibility, and public trust. The Chen corruption case and the Ker Chien-ming influence peddling case have shown that the party no longer has any sense of shame. Ideologically, it clings to such arguments as "Taiwan must reach an internal consensus before it can engage in cross-strait dialogue," and "We are like seagulls on the beach." Policy-wise, it flip-flops from "ECFA undermines sovereignty and humiliates the nation" to "We accept ECFA unconditionally." The DPP held a "sleep-in" in the legislature over U.S. beef imports, then fell silent. The DPP has lost the public trust. With all that has happened, how could it not? Ko Wen-je rejected party strictures. Tsai Ing-wen ignored party strictures. The party was already a hollow shell.The two merely exposed that fact
The DPP acquiesced to Ko Wen-je's refusal to join the party. Alas, this will not remedy the situation. The DPP acquiesced to Tsai Ing-wen's end run around DPP strictures. Alas, this will not remedy the situation either. Ko refused to join the party. He was afraid the party would drag him down. Tsai Ing-wen ignored party strictures. She had two motives. One was to beat down Su Tseng-chang. The other was to bypass party strictures, since the party no longer had anything to contribute, at least not to cross-strait policy.
DPP support in southern Taiwan counties and municipalities remains solid. But this cannot hide its bankruptcy in morals, rhetoric, policy, and public trust. Ko Wen-je refused to join the party. Tsai Ing-wen bypassed the party. Their actions reveal the seriousness of the party's crisis. A major political party cannot even reach a consensus on cross-strait policy. The Taipei mayoral candidate endorsed by the DPP and the Green Camp obviously has the DPP's support. Yet the DPP is being forced to conceal its party identity behind an "Opposition Alliance" fig leaf. Does this not constitute a crisis for the party?
By DPP standards, Ko and Tsai have heterodox personal images and character traits. This has attracted public notice. The two are well versed in how to market their heterodoxy and attract non-Green Camp support. The DPP has chosen to swallow its pride and put up with this heterodoxy. But doing so will not address the DPP's bankruptcy in morals, rhetoric, policy, and public trust. Doing so will not restore trust and legitimacy in the party.
Ko Wen-je refused to become a party member. He even declared that if elected, he would not join the party. Tsai Ing-wen agreed that Ko need not join. But she cannot resign from the party. She may be able to perform an end run around Su Tseng-chang, But suppose she reclaims the party chairmanship? Suppose she becomes its presidential candidate? Can she really ignore the DPP completely? The fact is, she must rebuild the DPP's morals, rhetoric, policy, and public trust. Otherwise, in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen will merely reenact the debacle of 2012.
2014.01.29 04:22 am