Monday, February 16, 2004

DPP is so politically Protestant

With my dad booking tickets to Taiwan just to vote for the next president, I've been trying to follow the campaign battles between the dominant competitors, the DPP and the KMT. The theologian in me can't help but notice how the ideological divide between the two parties rests on identity issues that resemble the Protestant-Catholic divide. The DPP wants to codify indigenous nationalism and independence from China, while the KMT still clings to the hope for reunification with the mainland. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying. But then this article shows how factionalism is spreading within the DPP's ranks in its southern strongholds. It's so reminiscent of the church divisions that metastasized among the Taiwanese Protestant churches I grew up with in NY. What bugs me most about the DPP is their naive and simplistic glorification of "Taiwaneseness" as something diametrically opposed to Chineseness. It's so Protestant. Then there's the mantra of KMT corruption, as if they had some monopoly on political corruption. Again, so Protestant. Corruption is a serious matter, but what's it got to do with Taiwan's non-Chineseness? But it's not just about corruption; at its core is a hatred/fear of anything Chinese (which Taiwanese ethnically are). The DPP ideology of independence and the referendum demands a historical and cultural amnesia, just like, you guessed it, Protestantism. It's no surprise that the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in Taiwan are all religiously pro-DPP. The Catholic Church in Taiwan is dominated by the mainlander expats and the aborigines--the socioeconomic bookends of society. I find that assemblage much more interesting than the petty bourgeois attitudes of the DPP.