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Published:September 2nd, 2009 18:08 EST
The LDP, the DJP, and the USA

The LDP, the DJP, and the USA

By Geoff Dean

 In my previous contributions, I have strenuously avoided political discussions, not so much out of fear of offending someone, but because it may be one subject where I have even less of value to say than what I usually say. That blatantly self-serving falsely modest disclaimer out of the way, I am a strong supporter of the Democratic party and thrilled by their recent landside win. Change has come. A political earthquake.While I am a Democratic supporter, I am surely not a liberal Democrat. They are much too conservative. And I would never vote for an arch-conservative like a liberal. What am I talking about? Japanese poitics, of course.

 Japanese politics actually has a lot to teach its American counterpart. Japan had been ruled since World War II by the Liberal Democratic Party. They were the conservative ruling party, hence the "liberal" in the party name, opposed by the Socialist Party, now called the Social Democratic Party. They continued for more than fifty years in one-party rule, hence the "democratic" in the title. They weren`t liberal, democratic, nor, for my money, much of a party, either. Rule Number 1: To attract voters, call your party the opposite of what it really is. Most people won`t notice.

 Anyway, a group of LDP members left the group to form the Democratic Party of Japan. Got that? The Liberal Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Democrats. Another conservative faction of the LDP departed to form the Liberal Party. See Rule 1 for details. Rule Number 2: Give your party a name similar to that of a popular party so that people may get confused and vote for your party by mistake.

 Another group of LDP defectors departed to form the Japan New Party, not to be confused with the Citizens` New Party. In America, we have the GOP, the Grand Old Party. In Japan, parties boast that they are brand new! I wonder if fifty years from now, these parties will still call themselves "New Parties" or if they will have become the Japan Moderately Old Party and the Citizens` Reasonably Aged Party. Maybe, they should join together and form the Japan New and Improved Party. Rule Number 3: Forget experience, qualifications, history. Voters want something new.

 As election campaigns began in early August, candidates of each party drove around their districts in vans, waving at potential voters. I live in the sixth district of Tokyo and saw all four candidates several times. The common approach was to lean out the window and wave to passersby while someone announced on a megaphone, "Vote for Mr. Suzuki (or whomever). Mr. Suzuki of the Whatever Party. That`s right, Mr. Suzuki. On election day, that`s Mr. Suzuki. August 30th, this Sunday, that`s Mr. Suzuki." Around this point, the announcement would begin again from the beginning. Pretty soon, the next candidate would drive by with the same message, except for changing the name and the name of the party. Rule Number 4: Voters hate content and have the attention span of a two-year old on a sugar binge. Repeat name until engraved in memory. If you must make policy pronouncements, stick to something like "I like Japan" or "I will make Japan a better place to live" or "I am Japanese". In all fairness, I heard a few speeches and they have had more content but they were in Japanese so it was Greek to me!

 All you budding Karl Rove`s and James Carville`s, get out your pens and note pads. Apply the rules and watch the results. Rename the Democrats, the Fiscally Responsible Pro-Gun Family Values Party and rename the Republicans, the Compassionate Conservatives (Oops, somebody already tried that!) Or try something like nicknaming the Democrats, the GOOP (Grand Old Opry Party?). Add new to the name like New Democrats or Only Slightly Used Republicans. And most of all, make speeches that amount to a repetition of one`s name ad nauseum combined with platitudes like "I support breathing" and "Left-handedness is not a crime" and "I am opposed to gum control" and "I support the 4th Amendment" (like anyone knows what that is!) Thank you, God bless you and may God (or Buddha or somebody) bless the United Prefectures of Japan!