Monday, September 16, 2013

One Simple Answer To A Complex Question / A Momentary Lapse Of Reason

A Nagging Question: How is it that Japan's opposition parties, particularly the Democratic Party of Japan, are now so moribund? Did not the DPJ win a landslide victory in 2009? How can these once high fliers now be so irrelevant?

Something Like An Answer: Holding aside the New Komeito, which is an entirely different genus of political beast from anything else out there, there are only two parties in Japan with deep bases -- the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party. Commitments to these parties are reliable, in the first case thanks to personal ties, self interest and a recognition of the durability of power elites, in the second in a faith in an ideology and notions of the family.

For the other parties, loyalty is largely a matter of the head, not the heart. In the specific case of the DPJ, its support, save among members of the Rengo league of labor unions, was at its height a kilometer wide and a centimeter deep. When the going got tough, public support evaporated.

As Pink Floyd asked:
Was it love?
Or was it the idea of being in love?
During the DPJ's rise in popularity to where its leaders cobbled together a surrogate, but supposedly honest and trustworthy, big tent center-right party, public support arose from out of the latter: the idea of an opposition rather than the actual opposition party in question. The same seemingly holds true for the backing for the other non-Communist opposition parties -- their supporters are not in love with them, they are in love with the idea of being in love with them.

Reviving the DPJ (Link) is thus unlikely on a technical level -- for the most part, its supporters had a crush on it, not a relationship with it.

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