Next president

Attaining unity is a key to avoiding Park’s fate

With the impeached Park Geun-hye stripped of her presidency, the nation is plunging into the next stage of its ongoing saga: the election of a new president.

The success of the next president will be determined by the voters’ efforts to find the best leader with the ability to bring unity to the divided nation. Failure to do so may subject the country to the unsavory fate of seeing the leader go down Park’s path.

Voters should not repeat the same mistake of electing a leader such as Park, while the candidates should refrain from partisan demagoguery and offer a platform that unites the nation across political beliefs.

One big contributing factor to Park’s election four years ago was voters’ sympathy toward the former first daughter, who lost both of her parents under tragic circumstances. Being unmarried with no children also helped convince the sympathetic voters that she would not get entangled in corruption as many of her male predecessors did.

It turned out pure wishful thinking as Park relied on her confidant Choi Soon-sil like a close sibling and fell in the same trap by letting her share her presidential mandate by supporting Choi’s influence-peddling.

This time, it is important for the voters to put aside their personal affiliations from hometown and school ties, or from melodramatic emotions. Rather, they should apply cool heads when deciding whom they choose.

Also, proactive political participation is equally important. The candlelit protests brought millions of people out to the streets, jolted the political circles out of their lethargy and led to the expulsion of a corrupt leader. The lesson is that power belongs to the people and the people should stay vigilant as if guarding their power against burglars.

The candidates also have parts to play by joining efforts to normalize the nation as soon as possible.

First of all, the candidates irrespective of their political persuasions should reveal their platforms of unity and put it under public scrutiny so that they won’t end up with only empty political slogans for vote-getting purposes.

In the aftermath of Park’s ouster, the nation remains deeply divided between those who backed it and those who opposed it. Whoever gets elected president _ currently the liberal candidates occupy the leaders’ scoreboard with Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, being the frontrunner, should offer an olive branch across the ideological spectrum.

Of course, the whole truth should be uncovered as to what had gone wrong with the Park government and those found accountable should be punished. That is justice.

However, if he fails to attain the understanding of the dissenters by pursuing a witch hunt, it would be a short cut to becoming a leader representing only half of the nation, and running the risk of inviting the crowds to chant “not my president.”

Unless the cycle of political vendettas is severed, there can be no guarantee that the next president will be free from the fate of Park. The nation can least afford to have two impeached presidents in a row.

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