Stone Mirror; on Political Proliferation and Problems

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 2, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Stone Mirror; on Political Proliferation and Problems


What are we to make of political parties and their proliferation in Korea, and indeed in the United States? In the U.S., the issue is not fringe groups, for no matter how focused their agendas may be (vegetarian, for example), they are marginal by definition. But there are historical and contemporary third forces that resonate with a significant segment of the body politic, even if only a small minority. In the U.S., their existence indicates some significant political discontent among important elements of the population with some policy issues. We are likely to have three national parties in the forthcoming U.S. elections in November, plus some statistically insignificant groups and a couple of locally important organizations. Money oodles of it -- seem to be the grease of the American electoral machines.

In Korea, the proliferation phenomenon is based on different criteria. Policy issues will not be paramount. It now seems likely there will be five parties, the three usual suspects the Millennium Democratic Party of Kim Dae-jung, the United Liberal Democrats of Kim Jong-pil, the Grand National Party of Lee Hoi Chang and the new splinter group, the Democratic People's Party, headed by Cho Soon, as well as the Labor Party. It is going to be an exciting and chaotic few weeks in Korea, and the election outcome will be important to the future of the country over the next decade.

Are there really any comparisons that might be drawn between the Korean and American experiences that would help us understand both processes and provide some focus to such seeming disparate experiences? Perhaps there are. Electoral politics in Korea and the U.S. (and other societies as well), put simply, are generally about a volatile mixture of four elements: programs or platforms; political institutions and their continuity; personality and personal ambitions; and geography. Other societies add to this mix such categories as class, caste, race, religion and ethnicity, and some of the above continue to affect American politics. The relative weights of each of these elements change by country, culture, and time. Understanding how they are balanced provides clues to determining social dynamics, even if it only marginally helpful in determining who will win elections. For that, it is better to consult a fortuneteller, which I feel sure many politicians have done.

In the United States, personal ambition has been important and even necessary. They say that one must have fire in the belly to want to be president or this commitment is not conveyed to voters. President Clinton has had it from childhood, so people say, and Senator McCain for a couple of decades. However important, it is probably only a minority influence compared to other factors. More significant is the personal impression of a candidate what kind of trust, empathy, and integrity does the candidate convey; it is more difficult to determine what integrity the person really has.

Political institutions are important as well, for there is party continuity in the two major parties, and whoever vies for leadership at any level has to be seen as supporting the party and its future even though there may be differences over policies. Is Senator McCain trying to capture the Republican Party from certain segments of that establishment, as some claim? That is really not as important as the continuity of the Party itself and its general philosophy.

Geography is also a factor a candidate is supposed to be able to win his or her home state and in any campaign the president and vice president normally will come from different areas to provide geographic balance.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Stone Mirror; on Political Proliferation and Problems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?