Saturday, 16 January 2016

Election Day 2016

Taiwanese voters will go to cast their ballots today in Taiwan's sixth democratic election for the office of president in twenty years. The adjective "historic" is often used to refer to events that mark a break from the past, the first of a kind, the unprecedented. Yet history is made up of continuities and chains of consequences, and so this election may also be regarded as "historic" just as the last five were. It marks a generation during which the electoral mechanism has been used to formally alter the composition of the government rather than internecine politics, show trials and assassinations. Or war. Such things are fast becoming a distant memory to the Taiwanese. Today's elections are in that degree a mark of improvement.

There is probably a broad consensus about the most important task facing the new government. That task remains the defense of Taiwan against possible military aggression from China. Beyond that, everything dissolves into controversy, which is probably as it should be. Speaking only for myself I would like to hope for whatever steps can be taken toward two goals.

Clarity and simplicity over the legal rights of individuals, both in the context of market exchanges and in their capacity to express their views. That means that the individual rights of private property and freedom of expression ought to be upheld and strengthened.

A free school and home school policy in which the Ministry of Education relinquishes its' control over the syllabus to be taught to children. This must be accompanied by serious reductions in the education budget, which savings can then be allocated to financing military reform. The development of a free market in education is imperative, and the more bright children who can be saved from the "thought-control" centers of the State, the better.

As democratic politics is about compromise, then these are the things - along with military reform - that I am most sure about. As the Democratic Progressive Party are widely expected to win both the presidency and the legislature, I suspect we may get something in the way of military reform, but that the status of individual rights concerning private property and freedom of expression will remain either unchanged or will be weakened. Similarly it is doubtful that there will be anything much in the way of educational reform toward free-market principles.

I hope to be proven right on the first, and wrong on the second and third.

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