Michael Turton (Letters, Jan. 30, page 8) accuses me in my comments about the recent elections in Taiwan (Letters, Jan. 24, page 8) of spleen, banality and complete lack of discernment.
What can I say? If my censure of the insolence habitually directed at some half of Taiwan's voters by certain commentators; my concern for the livelihoods of Taiwanese citizens and the nation's economy; and my desire for "the emergence of a wise, equitable and progressive civic discourse in Taiwan" is "splenetic" then yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I stand before you guilty -- and unapologetic -- of venting my spleen.
I really don't want to start a fight with Turton, but as much as anything I don't think this is about my views being incomprehensible or wholly uninformed, but rather about the fact that I didn't a priori comply with Turton's views.
I simply pointed out that the DPP lost the legislative elections and needed to learn something from this; that I had heard many people express concern about the economy before the elections; and that, as noted above, too many people are launching too many insults at Taiwanese.
I find much of Turton's analysis -- complaints about election outcomes and politicking conditions that are in fact common in democracies worldwide and in many respects firmly supported by democratic theory -- to be unconvincing.
In particular, I find dubious the claim that the KMT exploited its grassroots supporters to steal a victory in the election.
Yes, such connections are subject to abuse, but I defer to former US senator Tip O'Neill, who observed that "all politics is local" -- an observation recognized as one of the great steps in waking politicians to the needs of real citizens.
In any case, accessing the grassroots support of the people is one of the fundamental exigencies of responsive politics and if the KMT is doing this better than the DPP, the latter can learn from their example.
One of Turton's claims, however, really gets my goat. "What Taiwanese voters value most are not policy issues but personalized service," he writes.
Again, we can see his point, but in sum, what Turton implies is that Taiwanese voters concern themselves more about a plate of free beef noodles and a little questionable assistance with a legal problem than the education of their children, the state of their economy, the environment they live in, crime and public order, the cost of housing, infrastructure development, etc. Such a claim I will not abide by.
Ultimately, I would be more inclined to agree with Jerome Keating -- whatever his political view -- when he wrote that the KMT "is not monolithic. Contrasting viewpoints abound and power struggles continue beneath the surface."
Such a view undermines Turton's apocalyptic prediction of a "permanent majority."
In any event, I am not endorsing or criticizing any one party.
Rather, I am trying to point out that respect for the various viewpoints in this country, to say nothing of more empathetic, impartial and tolerant attitudes toward Taiwanese voters and their issues (yes, their issues) is necessary to make progress in this country.
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