Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Biggest threat is selfish politicians

By Cao Changqing曹長青

The Democratic National Convention, which opened July 26 in Boston, made me think of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP). Neither of these parties had primaries as part of their presidential nomination processes. Nominees are primarily decided by party chairmen, and they usually nominate themselves -- as if no one else inside their parties were eligible to run for the presidency.

But the most despicable thing is this: After losing the presidential election twice, both KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) failed to learn from party leaders in Western democracies, who probably would have stepped down from their posts. Rather, they have used excuses, such as the March 19 assassination attempt and the presidential vote recount, to stay in power.

This is like two bullies going to a restaurant. When it's time for the restaurant to close its doors, the two refuse to pay or to leave, claiming that the food was too salty and the wine too sour, and that a gunshot outside has also ruined their appetite. They know that if they don't make these excuses, they will have to pay and leave at once.

The foundation of a democratic system is playing the game by the rules. Those defeated in elections should admit their failure and withdraw from the game right away. The KMT and the PFP had no democratic competition before the presidential election. Months after the election they have still refused to admit defeat. This is worrisome indeed. What blocks the nation's further development, and most endangers the country, is not necessarily autocratic China. Instead, it may be politicians who care only for power rather than the nation's future.

The best protection for the nation's security is not the nation's modern military force, nor the US. It's the degree of maturity of the nation's democratic system. No matter how much the Chinese Communist Party threatens Taiwan, the free world will not tolerate a democratic country being swallowed by an autocratic one. Those who vow to protect Taiwan are liars if they do not first protect democracy.

Cao Changqing is a writer based in New York.


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