DPP: Reduced to Riding the Coat Tails of the Youth Corps
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
April 2, 2014
Summary: The DPP party princes attended the 3/30 anti-CSSTA protest. Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen, Annette Lu, Yu Hsi-kuen, and Frank Hsieh showed up on Ketegelan Boulevard dressed in black. But all they did was stand on the sidelines. The Machiavellian DPP now confronts mistrust from the public without and ostracism from the Youth Corps within. It has waffled so long, it has a hard time distinguishing play acting from real life. This is where the DPP stands today.
Full text below:
The DPP party princes attended the 3/30 anti-CSSTA protest. Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen, Annette Lu, Yu Hsi-kuen, and Frank Hsieh showed up on Ketegelan Boulevard dressed in black. But all they did was stand on the sidelines. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang was heckled. "The DPP needs to get serious!" "Don't think only about the presidential election!" The scene revealed the DPP's inability to find a niche amidst the social protests. The scene also underscored the embarrassing fact that the DPP was being ordered about by the Youth Corps, rather than the other way around.
The two main leaders of the student movement share history with the DPP. Lin Fei-fan was a member of the Youth Corps at Tsai Ing-wen's campaign headquarters in Ilan. Chen Wei-ting was a member of the Youth Corp support group at Yang Chang-cheng's campaign headquarters in Miaoli. Their anti-CSSTA demands faithfully echo the DPP's long-held Sinophobia. But the student movement embarrassed more than the KMT. It embarrassed the DPP as well. The DPP was forced to quietly participate in the sit-in and be reduced to mere cheerleaders. This is something the DPP probably did not anticipate.
The DPP may have provided various forms of support from the sidelines or behind the scenes. But at least in terms of appearance, the student leaders consciously distanced themselves from the DPP. One could even say that the student movement succeeded precisely because it kept the DPP at arms length. This "tail wagging the dog" phenomenon was a factor in the Tai Pu incident, the Hung Chung-chiu incident, and other incidents. It reveals how rigid, opportunistic, and outdated the Democratic Progressive Party's political methods have become. It has lost the public trust. It has been ostracized by social movements. The Youth Corps has realized this for quite some time. The DPP however, remains oblivious.
Consider the first day of legislative proceedings following the two week long occupation. Green Camp legislator Chen Chi-mai attacked Blue Camp legislator Chang Ching-chung. He flung a glass of water at Chang while Chang was speaking. The student movement clashes have ended. But the DPP has yet to change its crude and unreasoning political style. This shows that the DPP is utterly oblivious to public perception. As we can see, the DPP has never felt the need to conduct itself in a manner befitting a democracy. It still assumes that its modus operandi has a market. But as we all know, the new generation is already tired of those tricks.
We need not exaggerate the accomplishments of the student movement. The students may have fresh faces. But rhetorically, they have not fallen far from the DPP tree. Their organization and mobilization relied heavily on support from the Green Camp. The biggest difference between the student-led mass movement and DPP-led mass movements, was that the students stressed public order. Except for the occupation of the Executive Yuan, their movement took place in an atmosphere of peace. Just imagine if the 3/30 Ketegelan Road protest had been led by the DPP? Would the crowd have peacefully disbanded by 7pm? Would the Black Shirts have clashed with the White Shirts? Judging by such standards, Chen Chi-mai demonstrated less self-control than the students. He behaved in a juvenile and risible manner. Is it any wonder the DPP meekly followed the lead of the Youth Corps on Ketegelan Boulevard? In fact, the Green Camp probably would not have been able to persuade nearly as many people to participate.
The student movement generated considerable momentum for the anti-CSSTA movement. But is this necessarily helpful to the DPP? We don't think so. Admittedly the Ma government's campaign has suffered a serious setback. It has been staggered and is in retreat. But any windfall for the DPP is likely to be limited. One might even say that when student demonstrators precipitated a showdown on the CSSTA, they exposed the DPP's cross-strait dilemma, and did them a disservice.
The DPP has long been forced to retreat on cross-strait policy. The DPP obdurately refuses to engage the Mainland. But the Chinese mainland has risen, and Taiwan's economic dependence on it has increase. Ever closer cross-strait relations are unavoidable. The DPP's Taiwan independence rhetoric is an inadequate response to a cross-strait relationship that is simultaneously confrontational and mutually dependent. DPP rhetoric makes meaningful consultations with Beijing impossible. If the DPP persists in its blind opposition to anything related to Mainland China, the Democratic Progressive Party will find it difficult receive enough popular support in the general election and take power.
Recently several DPP leaders have modified their cross- strait thinking. They have modified their rhetoric. They hope that the DPP will be able to play a meaningful role in cross-strait relations. Ironically, it was at this very moment that students resorted to extreme measures to challenge cross-strait policy, greatly shrinking the DPP's maneuvering room. Students on the street or on the Internet may be happy to distance themselves from Mainland China. They may be happy to take a different path, economically and politically. But can the DPP really follow in the students' footsteps? Would doing so really be politically advantageous?
This is the paradox of the student movement. On the surface, the students' stand is consistent with Green Camp thinking. It appears to have given the DPP added momentum. In fact the more extreme the students' demands, the more they stand in the way of DPP policy reform, and the more they push the DPP towards a Sinophobic vortex. The DPP may pay ritual lip service to the students demands on Ketegelan Boulevard. But once the students scatter, the DPP will have to bear the political cost of shattering the cross-strait status quo. On this point, American Institute in Taiwan Director David Brown has already burst the DPP's balloon. No wonder the Green Camp party princes were willing to sit on the sidelines and allow themselves to be ordered about by the students. That was their insurance policy.
The Machiavellian DPP now confronts mistrust from the public without and ostracism from the Youth Corps within. It has waffled so long, it has a hard time distinguishing play acting from real life. This is where the DPP stands today.
2014.04.02 03:55 am