As the nation enters another period of election frenzy, people are focusing their attention on just the capital city, Taipei, where Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), known as Ko P. for his previous professor job at National Taiwan University Hospital, is a rising star as he was four years ago, with polls consistently showing him enjoying a big lead over rivals from major political parties.
The independent candidate seeking re-election may not be benefiting from the “rising white power” which handed him the ballot victory in 2014, but this time around, he is creating a new whirlwind purely out of his own personal charisma.
We can safely predict that Ko will play a major role in the 2020 presidential election, as his campaigning style will affect all political parties and politicians seeking public office.
In spite of its many drawbacks, the Ko P. phenomenon can generally be attributed to the public’s overall disillusionment with traditional political parties, their politicians’ hunger for power and their arrogance once they are in power.
Unaware of their having distanced themselves from the people on the street, the traditional politicians — either of the ruling pan-green Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or the opposition pan-blue Kuomintang (KMT) — have regularly gone against public opinion, thinking that only their views are right and behaving as if they are one rank above the general populace, while ignoring what ordinary people are thinking and feeling about their routine mundane lives.
This is what happened in 2014, and catapulted Ko into the mayoral seat. Traditional politicians, without reflecting on themselves, thought that Ko was just a beneficiary of a once-in-a-while bout of populism or a backlash against the senile and feeble KMT, and that his support base would soon be taken over by the DPP.
With this arrogant mindset, the DPP and KMT “elitists” were waiting for Ko to make mistakes and for their old supporters to come back to their folds. The DPP even expected that Ko would throw himself into its embrace voluntarily, since his first election was due in part to the DPP’s “hidden assistance.”
Ko has made mistakes during his time in office, and his popularity has waned. However, because of the failure of both the blue and green camps to ponder themselves, public grievances have not been dumped on Ko. Instead, members of the public have found themselves relying on Ko again to help air their grievances.
We are not accusing the traditional politicians, without reason, of lacking repentance. For example, the DPP is still using the so-called indigenous ideology, transitional justice and fundamentalism to try to paint Ko as a “red” agent in Taiwan.
The KMT can only chant its mantra of “returning to power” without telling the people why its regaining power would be good for them. The KMT has even ridiculed Ko’s young supporters for being “brainless, shallow followers” of the mayor.
Both KMT and DPP politicians have just shown their hunger for power and the arrogance of power, continuing to play politics the old way — extremely professionally. Well, so professionally that they simply forget the ABC of politics — to solve problems of the people and ease their pain.
That is why, when the general populace finds that the two traditional parties are so far away and so far out of touch, they forgive Ko for failing to deliver on many of his 2014 campaign promises and for making quite a few blunders over the past four years.
They have found that in contrast, a Ko P. who looks at issues from the perspective of common sense and basic humanity, who “breathes the same air as we” is much lovelier than a traditional politician who just shows hunger for power and the arrogance of power, even though Ko maybe not even able to come up with good solutions to problems.
So, What is frightening and saddening is that this Ko-style whirlwind will continue into 2020, when the presidential election will not just affect the people of a city, but all families all over the country.
(Editorial abstract — Aug. 1, 2018)