Upon hearing Senator John Kerry's concession speech delivered in Boston early yesterday morning, no one would argue that the Demo-cratic presidential candidate's peaceful attitude with regard to his election loss demonstrated the true spirit of democracy.
It almost seemed ironic when compared to this country, as rowdy street protests took place in Taipei yesterday afternoon against the Taiwan High Court's final ruling on the validity of March presidential election.
Comparing Taiwan's presidential election with that of the US, many of the nation's leading academics agree that Taiwan has a lot of catching up to do.
"Kerry's concession displayed the spirit of democracy, for he chose not to appeal it for the sake of the country's unity ... he was able to declare his loss openly," said Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), director of the Taiwan Thinktank's Foreign Policy Studies.
"Taiwan's politicians could definitely learn from the respect Kerry has for his country," he added.
Lai said Kerry's decision not to seek an appeal demonstrated the senator's confidence in his country's democratic system.
"Pre-election polls were in his favor and a Kerry victory was overwhelmingly predicted, but in the end, he lost the election. Nevertheless, Kerry realized that additional ballot counts would not change the situation, and therefore whole-heartedly accepted the result even before the last poll closed. It showed how much the senator believes in his country's democratic system," Lai said.
Lai also said that there is a direct correlation between the people in a given country and the types of qualities manifested in its leaders.
"Leadership matters. If politicians disrupt social unity for their own political benefit, such moves are going to affect the people. This dynamic is demonstrated by comparing Kerry's nobility with what is going on in Taiwan this afternoon," Lai said yesterday.
Former Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Alexander Huang (黃介正), now a professor at Tamkang University's Institute of American Studies, also commended the US senator for his decision.
"Kerry's experience serves as a good lesson on the spirit of democracy that Taiwan can learn from. Comparing the Taiwanese and the US presidential elections, however, is like comparing apples and oranges," Huang said.
According to Huang, the two US political camps debated extensively over domestic and foreign policies in the run-up to the election, while Taiwanese political camps argued over less crucial issues.
"The main debate over [Wednesday's] US presidential election was not so much about ballot distribution, but the differences in policy positions of the two parties. In Taiwan, however, the pan-blue and the pan-green camps argued over ideologies."
Huang also said there were two factors that led to Kerry's concession which could serve as a valuable lesson for Taiwan.
"[Kerry's] personality is one, and the other factor is the attitude of his campaign staff and supporters. If Kerry did not concede, controversy surrounding it would develop. Taiwanese people should learn from the American public's spirit of democracy -- that true democracy is not about pointing fingers at one another," Huang said.