Tsai Ing-wen's "Coffee Commercial"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 11, 2011
Tsai's Ing-wen has aired her first campaign commerical: "I am Taiwanese, I am Tsai Ing-wen." At first glance, the television spot comes across as rather moving. It adroitly bypasses reason, and appeals directly to the emotions. But if one pauses and actively thinks about what the ad said, instead of passively reacting to how the ad madeone feel, one is left with an uneasy feeling in one's gut.
Political rhetoric, including political advertising, must not be overdone. If it is too elaborate, or too slick, it loses sincerity. It may even come across as deceitful. The ad in question appeals entirely to the voter's feelings. It bypasses the voter's intellect and thinking. In short, it attempts to persuade the voter to vote for Tsai Ing-wen based on the voter's feelings, without stopping to think or to reason the choices out.
This ad is clearly aimed at younger voters. It opens with a series of questions in English: "Taiwan, What do you want? Taiwan, Where are you? Taiwan, Where are you going?" Tsai received a doctorate from the London School of Economics. These questions, in English, lead in to Tsai Ing-wen's academic credentials, and imply that she is a leader with a global vision. The ad asks "Taiwan, Where are you going?" in English, thereby invoking the old Taiwan independence slogan. The ad renders an old Hoklo political slogan into English. Tsai Ing-wen hopes that doing so will tickle the fancy of concerned and frustrated younger voters. But the ad provides no answers. The DPP has no answers to the questions in the Hoklo dialect. Tsai Ing-wen hopes that by posing the same old questions in English, she will touch the hearts of voters. But she provides no answers either. . If Tsai Ing-wen were to come right out and say, "I reject the 1992 Consensus," would the audience still react as positvely as it has?
This ad merely underscores the fact that Tsai Ing-wen's campaign ad asks a lot of questions, but never provides a single answer. The ad underscores her obscurantist tactic of "encouraging to feel, but never to think." The ad is chock full of the language of longing, but never offers any answers. Who does not favor "a society that takes the path of reason?" Who does not favor "a government that takes responsibility?" Who does not favor "the creation of a sustainable society?" Who does not favor "Taiwan connecting with the world?" These are all common values shared by us all. But it is followed by a question in Chinese: "What then?" In English the question would be "How?" But the ad merely teases the viewer with touchy-feely allusions about the future. The only answer Tsai Ing-wen actually gives, is "I am Taiwanese, I am Tsai Ing-wen." !
Naturally, the ad provoked a powerful backlash. Some have asked: "Tsai says she is Taiwanese. But who on this island is not?" Some have asked: "The vision may be inspiring. But can it be realized merely because Tsai Ing-wen thumps her chest about being Taiwanese?"
Tsai Ing-wen repeatedly asks "Taiwan, where are you going?" But some voters don't believe in "feel good" slogans. They insist on thinking for themselves. They would like to ask Tsai: "Miss Tsai, Where are you? What do you want? Where are you going? Instead of asking where Taiwan is going, why not ask Tsai Ing-wen where she is going. Do you accept the 1992 Consensus, or don't you? Do you really intend to "create a nation with an equitable distribution of wealth" by implementing a "no growth economic policy," a "non export-oriented economy, and a "local economy?" Wouldn't it be easier to demand that Tsai Ing-wen answer these questions, than to demand that "Taiwan" answer these questions?
Some have noted how closely this ad resembles a coffee commercial. They have noted how campaign ads tend to be far too slick. Tsai Ing-wen asked "Taiwan, where are you going?" in English. She used it in place of the same old Taiwan independence slogans. She used the declaration, "I am Taiwanese," to insinuate that her rival is "not Taiwanese." But this is not a coffee commercial. This is an extremely subtle way to incite social division. The ad uses English to give the incitement of "ethnic" (social group) divisions a slick polish. This is a campaign ad that appeals to superficial feelings, that attempts to bypass reason and thought, and is aimed at younger voters, Doesn't this give you the creeps?
Tsai Ing-wen uses English to give Taiwan independence a slick finish. But she dares not explicitly champion independence. She insinuates that Ma Ying-jeou is "not Taiwanese." She repeatedly uses English to underscore the fact that Taiwan has no way out. But shouldn't Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP first ask themselves a whole array of questions? Is the Republic of China a government in exile, or isn't it? Do they recognize the 1992 Consensus, or don't they? Do they still advocate Taiwan independence, nation-building, the rectification of names, and the authoring of a new constitution, or don't they? If Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP have the answers to these questions, must they go through the motions of asking: "Taiwan, where are you going?"
The DPP is known for its slogan, "Dare to hope, follow your dream.”Tsai Ing-wen speaks only of visions for the future. She never offers solutions. She asks only, "Taiwan, where are you going? She doesn't ask, "The DPP, where are you going? She never asks "Tsai Ing-wen, where are you going? She wants voters only to wallow in feel-good sentiment. She attempts to bypass the voter's reason and thought. The ad may be slick. But Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP are not selling coffee. Therefore they must speak plainly. Where do Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP want to take Taiwan? How do they intend to "found a nation with an equitable distribution of wealth?"
Tsai Ing-wen, unlike Kwai Lun-mei, is not selling coffee. Kwai Lun-mei merely wants the TV audience to feel good. But Tsai Ing-wen aspires to be president. Therefore she must offer sound policy prescriptions, and appeal to reason.
這支廣告顯然是針對年輕選民。一開場，就是一連串的英語問句：Taiwan, What do you want? Taiwan, Where are you? Taiwan, Where are you going?這是用英語來襯托蔡英文倫敦政經學院博士的學歷及「國際觀」；同時也是用英語Taiwan, Where are you going?來道出過去台獨所說的：「台灣，你嘜叼位去？」但是，將台語問句換成了英語問句，蔡英文也許勾出了年輕選民心中的疑慮與憤懣，卻仍然沒有提出答案；正如民進黨對這個問題的台語問句亦迄無答案。蔡英文要的是英語問句所造成的Fu，但她不提答案；假如，蔡英文直接說出「我不接受九二共識」的答案，閱聽人還有那種Fu嗎？
蔡英文口口聲聲問「台灣」何去何從，然而，不相信「感覺」而相信「思想」的選民卻要問蔡英文：Miss Tsai, Where are you? What do you want? Where are you going?問台灣何去何從，不如問蔡英文，妳接不接受九二共識？妳難道想用「反對成長掛帥」、「反對出口導向」的「在地經濟」，去「打造一個均富永續的國家」？要蔡英文回答這些問題，總比要「Taiwan」來回答容易得多吧？
有人說，這支廣告有咖啡廣告的氛圍，用於政治廣告就流於過度加工。蔡英文只是用英語Taiwan, Where are you going?道出了「台灣，你嘜叼位去？」的台獨老梗；更是要用「我是台灣人」，把別人打成「不是台灣人」。但這畢竟不是咖啡廣告，而是高度精緻化的撕裂社會的手法，及用英語來包裝的族群鬥爭。這是一支訴諸膚淺「感覺」，而剝奪「理智」與「思想」的政治廣告，針對年輕選民，怎不令人毛骨悚然？
蔡英文用英語來包裝台獨的暗示，卻又不敢旗幟鮮明地標舉台獨；她影射馬英九「不是台灣人」，又反覆用英語描繪台灣之沒有出路。但是，為何蔡英文不先問自己及民進黨：中華民國是不是流亡政府？承不承認九二共識？是不是仍主張台獨建國、正名制憲？蔡英文及民進黨對這些問題其實皆有既成的答案，又何必再假惺惺地問：Taiwan, Where are you going?