The way for Democratic Party to survive
The National Assembly approved the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement with 151 votes. As the leadership of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) ran out of patience, it went ahead with a vote on the FTA ratification bill to rush it through the Assembly without the participation of the Democratic Party and other minor parties.
The overwhelming win by the GNP in the last general election carried a message from the people that it should lead by taking over parliament. However, unfortunately, many conservatives have been disappointed with the GNP for its lack of strong leadership and loss of initiative to the opposition party despite its big majority in the Assembly.
This dazzling unilateral act of railroading the FTA ratification revitalized the conservatives that had been depressed so far. They said that it made them feel as if things blocked in their chests were removed, and they cheered for the party.
On the other hand, anti-FTA netizens showed their anger and pledged that they should remember and campaign against the traitors to the country, the 151 assemblymen from the GNP, to unseat them in the next elections. The Democratic Party (DP) leadership is running around threatening a campaign to declare the unilateral vote null and void.
Furthermore, they have threatened to boycott every parliamentary activity, even the deliberations on next year’s budget. What could they get from this kind of reckless behavior, taking on the issue of an FTA that has already been ratified? I wish that they would just stop now.
I think it is time for them to stop venting frustration over the loss and find a way to help the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, which are likely to be hit hard by the FTA. The 2012 budget should also be processed quickly so that the country may run smoothly. Instead of just focusing on revenge, they should also present a constructive vision.
It was totally the DP’s fault that it failed at its anti-FTA efforts. I think that its decision to pick on the investor-state dispute (ISD) settlement clause was the biggest mistake. Demanding renegotiation on the agricultural industry would have made sense, but demanding a written agreement on the meaningless ISD clause was a laughable delay tactic.
The second mistake of the DP was its frequent use of abusive language and provocative expressions, such as calling the FTA negotiation team traitors who sold out the country and saying that 5,000 people should siege the Assembly building. It should have avoided these expressions, since they are what only leftists like to use.
The third mistake was that the DP joined forces with the Democratic Labor Party. It should not have done that. Instead of including the leftist party in the merger of the opposition, it should have returned to its origin as a pure liberal party.
It is a shame to watch the DP losing its identity and becoming a leftist party, as it is pushed by the strong power of the leftists. Now, the DP is falling into a party that only opposes without any vision. It is stuck with the leftists in an echo-chamber only to spread groundless rumors.
Their fourth mistake was not to do anything about Rep. Kim Sun-dong of the Democratic Labor Party who sprayed tear gas and pepper spray on the podium of the Assembly, yelling that he would kill everyone. The Democratic Party, which took a lead to unify opposition parties, should take responsibility for this kind of international shame.
The DP should lead the way to bring him to the disciplinary committee and demand his removal from the Assembly. I believe that this is an opportunity for the DP to show justice and courage by punishing the wrongdoing of someone on its side.
I hope the DP will come to understand two-party politics between conservatives and liberals as it has been maintained in the U.S. for 250 years. Democracy continues to progress in the ideological conflict between the conservative and the liberal. There are no leftists and no place for them to stand in the U.S.
There was once a communist party and a socialist party in the U.S. However, they struggled alone without support from the people and any proposal of cooperation from the other parties and disappeared.
The DP should gain clarity from this fight against the FTA ratification. It should make it clear whether it will become a leftist party that cooperates with the Democratic Labor Party or it will return to the original liberal party. That is the only way for the DP to survive.
Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the KimChangJoon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website (www.jayckim.com). The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.