The DPP is Behind the Times
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 21, 2012
Summary: The DPP has begun discussing how to deal with the 1992 Consensus. It has begun talking about a new cross-Strait policy approach. But none of these matters are basic. They are all superficial matters of secondary importance. The DPP equates severing relations with Mainland China with maintaining "Taiwan's sovereignty." It defines itself as a party that knows only how to make war with the Chinese Mainland, not how to make peace. The fact is it no longer needs to define itself in this manner. The DPP is not merely behind the times. It is falling further and further behind the times. This is why it has been forced to engage in its post election defeat review. The DPP's definition of its role and its goal, must be rethought, from top to bottom.
Full Text below:
The DPP lost the presidential election by 800,000 votes. The DPP is currently reviewing why it was unable to close the gap. In fact the remaining gap is the gap between the times the DPP lives in, and the way the DPP defines itself.
Outsiders have sharply criticized the DPP's post-mortem review of its election defeat. Many within the party have raised questions about what went wrong in the DPP's bid to return to power. Why was it unable to go the distance? Many within the party have demanded serious soul-searching. Most agree that the DPP's stance on cross-Strait issues is the reason it is unable to gain the public trust. But most know that when faced with this problem, the DPP remains incapable of offering concrete alternatives. Internal dissent could even lead to a split within the party. Does the DPP really want to remain stuck where it is, unable to go the final mile?
Many charges have been leveled against outsiders. One charge is that the DPP was unfairly portrayed as opposed to Taiwanese businessmen. Another charge is that the KMT engaged in economic intimidation, and the intimidation worked. But these are all tactical matters. The real reason the DPP is stuck. is the way the DPP perceives itself. It is also the way outsiders perceive the DPP and its raison d'etre.
Taiwan was once under authoritarian rule. Local consciousness and local culture were suppressed. Cross-Strait confrontation led to a prolonged Mainland diplomatic blockade and military intimidation. It did not take long for "ethnic" (communal group) demagoguery to appear within the pro democracy movement. This "ethnic" demagoguery characterized the Kuomintang as a regime from the mainland whose goal was to annex Taiwan. It cast the KMT as the enemy of Taiwan. Inciting "ethnic" divisions and antagonisms became a convenient tool for political mobilization. Local people suffered many historical traumas. They feared and loathed Mainland authority.
The DPP became the spokesperson for this fear and loathing. The DPP habitually accused others of being "traitors who are selling out Taiwan." It cast itself as Taiwan's solitary champion. It made Taiwan independence the party's Holy Grail. It swore to defend Taiwan from Mainland China. This has been the core value of the DPP since its very inception. These are its most distinctive trademarks. That is why the DPP must cast the Chinese Mainland as a Evil Incarnate, and itself as Taiwan's only salvation. But what happens when the enemy is no longer the enemy? What happens when the cross-Strait standoff winds down? What happens when confrontation gradually becomes exchanges and cooperation? The reason for the DPP's existence begins to look outdated. Time has marched on. It has cast aside the life and death cross-Strait struggle. But the DPP knows only how to battle the "Communist bandits." Little wonder it has been left behind by the general public.
The DPP's self-definition is a throwback to a past in which the two sides faced each other with swords drawn. But the situation has changed. One. People on both sides of the Strait have spontaneously engaged in close interaction. Tourism, education, business, investment, marriage, medical treatment, and other exchanges have steadily increased. Two. The Chinese Mainland is increasingly important, politically and economically, to the international community, Europe looks to the Mainland for its debt problems. Businessmen from Taiwan are even more dependent upon the business opportunities made available. The United States needs Mainland cooperation on North Korea and Syria. Three. The Chinese mainland is changing. Economic growth, the free flow of information, and Internet communications, have steadily loosened its formerly monolithic rule. Wu Kan Village protests and elections are seen as an important step in the fight for democracy. The DPP has not addressed or dealt with these changes.
The changes on Mainland China have not occurred as quickly as the outside world might wish. There is still much to criticize. Cross-Strait sovereignty disputes remain unsolved. But the changes are already obvious, Yet the DPP's attitudes remain rigid and its policies calcified, inapplicable to a cross-Strait situation in which the two sides no longer face each other with swords drawn. Instead of changing with the times, the DPP has chosen to turn a blind eye to the changes that have taken place. It has chosen to minimize or distort their significance.
The DPP rejects Mainland China. It refuses to recognize its importance. The DPP is out of touch with reality. People on Taiwan have real world concerns about their continued livelihood. Worse still for the DPP, cross-Strait relations continue to increase. As a result, the DPP is increasingly perceived as obdurately obstructionist. It forfeited the opportunity to function in a positive manner. The public sees this. The DPP is a political party that remains mired in the past, incapable of dealing with the present. It is incapable of offering a practical blueprint for the future. How can it possibly win the peoples trust?
Let us speak frankly, from the heart. The people do not believe that if the DPP were to return to power, that it would make a genuine effort to reduce cross-Strait tensions and promote reconciliation and cooperation, Any such effort would be antithetical to the DPP's very justification for existence. Meanwhile, whenever the KMT promotes cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation, it is invariably the target of DPP character assassination. This confirms and bolsters the impression that the DPP is unregenerate in its Sinophobia.
The DPP has begun discussing how to deal with the 1992 Consensus. It has begun talking about a new cross-Strait policy approach. But none of these matters are basic. They are all superficial matters of secondary importance. The DPP equates severing relations with Mainland China with maintaining "Taiwan's sovereignty." It defines itself as a party that knows only how to make war with the Chinese Mainland, not how to make peace. The fact is it no longer needs to define itself in this manner. The DPP is not merely behind the times. It is falling further and further behind the times. This is why it has been forced to engage in its post election defeat review. The DPP's definition of its role and its goal, must be rethought, from top to bottom.