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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times US Democrats can learn, not KMT

US Democrats can learn, not KMT

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The US presidential elections are over, with Republican candidate Donald Trump emerging as the winner, while the Republicans also retained their House of Representative and Senate majorities. The questions the whole world is now asking are: Where will Trump take the US? Will the world’s political framework be overturned? What changes will take place in the international state of affairs?

However, few have shown much concern about where the Democratic Party is headed after being beaten so badly.

According to a report by the Huffington Post, on Nov. 10 the Democratic National Committee (DNC) held its first meeting following Hillary Rodham Clinton’s defeat. While interim DNC chair Donna Brazile was making a rousing speech to the 150 or so staffers about the need to keep up hope for wins in the future, a staffer named Zach suddenly stood up to speak.

He was quoted as asking: “Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this? You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chair US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself.”

“You are part of the problem. You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy,” he was quoted as saying before leaving the meeting.

Another Huffington Post report said US Senator Bernie Sanders has endorsed Representative Keith Ellison to be the next party chairman.

From Taiwan’s point of view, the highlight of this news is not whether the Democrats can rise from the ashes, nor about its leadership changes or other developments. Rather, it is about how a democratically structured party is responding to its electoral defeat.

Comparisons with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) following its electoral rout show just how different these two parties are.

The Democratic Party does not have a vulture-like clique of rich and privileged leaders such as former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), KMT Vice Chairman and former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and KMT Central Committee member Sean Lien (連勝文). This makes it easier for the Democrats to replace their leading team than is the case with the KMT.

Even if only fragments of party power remain, the KMT’s defeated generals still keep those remnants for themselves and insist on gobbling up every last crumb. They are quite willing to drag everyone else down with them.

In order to get their hands on the party chair, they have not been shy of breaking the Taiwanese public’s big taboo by singing along with Beijing’s “one China” tune. This is their way of getting into China’s good books, opposing Taiwanese independence and keeping control of the party.

This kind of thing is hardly unexpected from the KMT. It is not surprising that the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons who should bear full responsibility for electoral defeats have instead tightly held on to power.

However, what is remarkable is that there is not a single Zach among KMT workers. Nobody among them has stood up and castigated the party’s leaders, or called on them to take responsibility and resign.

Of course, it could be that nobody like Zach could survive in the KMT in the first place — anyone like him would have been taken out and shot long ago.

The KMT seems to be in its final days, with those at the top vying for party assets and power while those at the bottom vie for pay and pensions. There has been no change at all in the party’s system and culture, which remains dominated by a rich and privileged clique of Mainlanders.

Instead of just fading away, the KMT thinks it can still compete with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over who owns the legacy of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙). The sight of these two parties squabbling over Sun is like watching two dogs gnawing an old bone that has been buried for more than 90 years.

The KMT calls Sun the “father of the nation,” while the CCP defines him as a “revolutionary forerunner.” While one of the two parties handed down to us by Sun has ravaged China, the other has tormented Taiwan. What are they fighting over, then? If people in China are willing to accept CCP rule, that is their business.

Luckily, Taiwan has already broken free of the claws of the party-state, and if the “Chinese” KMT cannot turn itself into a Taiwanese party, it will never get back on its feet.

The CCP defeated the KMT long ago and the People’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China. Even Sun’s widow, Soong Ching-ling (宋慶齡), denounced Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) as a traitor to Sun’s legacy.

It is clear who won and who lost. Taiwanese regard both party-states with disdain, because Taiwan’s path to democracy and freedom can only be trodden by Taiwanese one step at a time.

Chin Heng-wei is a political commentator.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2016/11/21

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