October started off with a bang with blaring headlines about the United States government shutdown. For the optimistic (for lack of a better word) few, the news was not that big of a deal considering the government has been shut down before in 1995 and has recovered since. For the media, it was a field day - with criticisms flying at both parties of how their inability to settle their differences has recklessly placed the nation in a vulnerable position and worried political analysts debating for some kind of resolution to this shutdown. And certainly, awareness of the fiasco was not limited to the politically active or curious. The general public responded to the issue in their own way: satire.
Social network service (SNS) sites streamed endlessly with comments and parodies. Some of them were witty, some of them ridiculous, and some even educational (as they either simplified the situation so that even those who have not been following American politics can readily understand or brought into perspective consequences of the shutdown people may not have been aware of). To give a few examples, a popular picture going around is of President Obama calling the service center complaining, “Hi, I’m having some trouble with my governm-,” to which the person on the other line comments, “Have you tried shutting it off and on again?”; another showed a picture of Queen Elizabeth exclaiming, “Quick! Time to reclaim the colonies!” What I mean to convey by mentioning all these examples is the fact that most of the general public, whether they were following the issue of Obamacare or not, are aware and responsive.
Recently, I became familiar with the term “lobbying.” Lobbying can be any act that tries to influence political decisions by either trying to promote or demote the priority level of an issue on the government’s agenda. After some thinking, I arrived to the conclusion that when the general public is openly responsive to an issue, the act itself can become lobbying – we become the government’s guilty conscience that does not relent until we see the issue resolved. And it is this responsiveness that is so important and yet so lacking in the young people of Korea.
On the day President Geun-Hye Park and her political party admitted to having failed to keep the promises of her campaign, many were thrown off from the issue by the sudden bombardment of shocking dating news of popular celebrities. Few struggled to let their voices be heard, urging others to not be swayed by the media and focus on the issue at hand – a president who has irresponsibly announced her inability to fulfill the goals so early on in her presidency. I can by no means assert that the dating news were used as cover-ups, but the point is, we got distracted.
If indeed a move had been made, as devious it may be, we cannot blame a move for having been used because technically, nothing illegal was done. But let us respond to the issues shadowed by the move in any form: anger, ridicule, worry, or at times, support. We need to make the call and voice what we want from our government to ensure that an irresponsible act or decision does not just slip by us.