The DPP: Mired in the Past
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
December 12, 2013
Summary: Let us be blunt. The DPP started out as an "outside the KMT" political organization. It grew strong because it pursued social justice. Today the DPP spares no effort in its pursuit of power. Its pursuit of power has clearly replaced its former pursuit of social justice. The means by which it pursues power have clearly replaced its former principles and ideals. As a result, it can no longer persuade the masses to follow. Therefore the "Princes of the Five Cities" is not merely a faded myth, but a political fact.
Full text below:
The DPP is holding its Taipei City and Xinbei City party primaries. This has led political wags to joke about the "Princes of the Five Cities," and underscored the Green Camp generational gap. Yu Shyi-kun handily defeated Chuang Shuo Han at the polls and won the Xinbei City primaries. That is nothing to wonder at. Annette Lu recently blasted her opponents in Taipei, asking "What contribution have young people made to democracy?" As one can see, the Green Camp generational gap has deeper structural causes.
Consider the central leadership and the major DPP factions. They still consist mostly of Formosa Incident leaders and defense attorneys. This means that although Taiwan has undergone vast changes over the past two decades, the DPP itself has remained frozen in time. This has two implications. One. Consider the internal changing of the guard. The party elders who founded the party remain active and refuse to step down, preventing the rise of a newer generation of party leaders. Two. Consider the ideological implications. The party elders cling to rigid theories about checks and balances, and outdated ideas about cross-Strait and international relations. They are unable to deal with the problems that confront Taiwan today. The DPP remains oblivious. It does not know how to reform itself. The former failing affects the evolution of the DPP. The latter failing undermines the progress of Taiwan.
The DPP remains frozen in time. Internally, this has prevented a changing of the guard. Even the "Old School" KMT has undergone three generational changes, from Lee Teng-hui to Lien Chan to Ma Ying-jeou. By contrast the DPP remains senile. This is true even when compared to the Mainland. Even the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party has developed a decade old system for its changing of the guard. Over the past twenty years, the baton has passed smoothly from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping. By contrast, the once youthful and energetic DPP is undergoing a young vs. old power struggle. This is deeply regrettable.
Consider the party's political path. The DPP remains frozen in time. This has led to a disconnect between it and society. The Democratic Progressive Party was originally an opposition party. It opposed the KMT's authoritarian rule and one-party monopoly. Under the circumstancs, its obstructionist strategy could be read as idealism and progressiveness. But the nation has undergone two ruling party changes. The Kuomintang was once cast as demonic. Now it has been revealed to be merely mediocre. Yet the DPP still persists in demonizing its opponent. The problems to be solved require professionals in environmentalism, public safety, and other matters. But the DPP is unable to offer any professional vision of its own. Its idealism often comes across as hollow. The DPP often flip flops. It says one thing when in power, and in flagrant self-contradiction, something else when it is not.
The list of examples is endless. For example, when in power, the Democratic Progressive Party repeatedly stopped and restarted construction on the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant. But when it found itself out of power, it engaged in obstructionism and demanded the total abolition of nuclear power generation. When in power, it quietly allowed U.S. beef imports. When it found itself out of power, it categorically opposed them. When in power, it flung the doors wide open on government allowances and benefits. When it found itself out of power, it blasted the same measures as fiscally destructive.
Consider an even more obvious example -- the DPP's obstinate foot-dragging on cross-Strait policy. Over the past two decades, the Mainland has undergone Glastnost. It has changed from an Iron Curtain country to the world's factory. It has become the world's second largest economy. But the pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party has no idea how to deal with this dramatic transformation. On the one hand, it persists in attacking the KMT's cross-Strait policy to cover up its own unworkable isolationist approach to "loving Taiwan." On the other hand, it restricts Taiwan businesses and cross-Strait exchanges, in order to protect the Holy Grail of Taiwan independence. It opposes ECFA. It opposes TISA. The DPP's thinking remains mired in the same two decades old Sinophobia. Over the past two decades, the world has become flat. Only the DPP's Taiwan Strait has become deeper. Taiwan has become more isolated, more closed. For this the DPP bears enormous responsibility.
Annette Lu asked, "What contributions have young people made to democracy?" This revealed more than her own egotism. It also revealed a political party's nostalgia, and reluctance to change with the times. Annette Lu fought the good fight. But her time is past. The challenges that confront future generations must be dealt with by new generations. Otherwise, one will remain mired in two decades old ideology and friend versus foe dualism. How can Taiwan undergo transformation? How can it progress?
The DPP remains frozen in history. It cannot bring itself to pass the baton to a new generation. This problem is not limited to the Green Camp. It undermines political, economic, and social evolution on Taiwan. Admittedly, The DPP was once a major force in promoting progress on Taiwan. It introduced new faces to the scene. But in recent years, this force has diminished. The result has been its current state of degeneration. Green Government died, but was never given a thorough autopsy. The DPP never engaged in soul-searching over Chen Shui-bian's malfeasance and corruption.
Let us be blunt. The DPP started out as an "outside the KMT" political organization. It grew strong because it pursued social justice. Today the DPP spares no effort in its pursuit of power. Its pursuit of power has clearly replaced its former pursuit of social justice. The means by which it pursues power have clearly replaced its former principles and ideals. As a result, it can no longer persuade the masses to follow. Therefore the "Princes of the Five Cities" is not merely a faded myth, but a political fact.
2013.12.12 03:54 am