The most significant and distinct ideological difference between the KMT and DPP is the following: The KMT recognizes one China and the official agreement reached by the two cross-strait administrations in 1992, commonly referred to as 1992 Mutual Understanding. The U.S. has long committed since 1970's to the recognition of one China thus the U.S. has been in agreement with KMT in maintaining a warm and progressive Cross-Strait relation. Whereas, the DPP is purposefully trying to walk away from the 1992 Mutual Understanding to pursue an independence attempt which is aggressively promoted by a faction in DPP insisting on keeping 'Taiwan Independence' in the DPP party platform as an objective. The U.S. is not sure whether or not such a direction will lead to a beneficial outcome to the U.S. in the name of world peace. Hence, the U.S. is studying the situation and the DPP behavior carefully under the still evolving China Policy.
The Taiwan issue is a clear one for the Mainland China, that is, Taiwan must be reunited with the mother land, sooner or later, slower or faster in pace, but never can be denied by any internal entity or any external country including the U.S., Japan or the entire United Nations. In fact, the Taiwan issue is rather clear to most countries in the world. However, the issue is surprisingly unclear in Taiwan existing as a fundamental problem facing the people of Taiwan and a serious challenge to the Taiwan governing administration. Unfortunately, the people was long misled by politicians through misinterpretation of history (even by whitewashing their textbooks to confuse the young generations) and through manipulation of democracy (by lies and fact twisting of policy issues, 政策，and people's wishes，民意， via media). The people in Taiwan were easily gullible but we must remember: you can fool some people some of the time, even most of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time! Thus to the title question, I believe the answer is yes and let me explain.
Reviewing the international events, especially concerning the U.S. - China relations, the U.S. seems to be conducting a China Policy in a classroom, that is, it is a case in study; consequently, China's US policy is in a seminar style, that is, debate, argue and interpret the U.S. China Policy then issue responsive statements. As a result, the two nations engage in occasional hot rhetoric but in reality both sides wish to find mutually acceptable compromises. Since going to war is mutually destructive and unacceptable, no matter how inevitable hawks of each side chant. People in Taiwan must understand this dynamics and be realistic in cultivating a beneficial Cross-Strait policy.
The 'Pivot to Asia' policy is fundamental to the U.S., a correct one from the viewpoint of the U.S. interests and her necessary decision in retreating from the Middle East problems and EU turmoil. However, a correct policy does not guarantee a correct execution particularly when the case is still under study, namely, the rise of China is very dynamic and ongoing, its threat may be over exaggerated or even be elevated by the U.S. herself. The U.S. diplomatic and military moves in the East China Sea now shifting to the SCS have clearly supported my 'classroom' theory and China's corresponding counter actions fitted my 'seminar' metaphor. Hopefully, the think tanks of both sides will engage in more dialogue to complete the classroom and seminar activities into a for-credit case-study course so that others like Taiwan can take such a course and earn credits in the school of geopolitics.
Taiwan politicians and party politics have a false notion that Taiwan has a choice between (A) Relying on the U.S. and U.S. protégé Japan to pursue an independence movement and (B) Yielding to Mainland China to take the reunification path. In fact, the U.S. and Japan do not want to have a truly independent Taiwan, world politics tell us that a truly independent country cannot be controlled easily by another. That is why endless regime changes occur in small countries if they have geopolitical importance. From the purpose of control and influence, often supporting independence does not really mean supporting the establishment of a truly independent entity. Taiwan must understand this, moving towards independence means choosing to be controlled by your supporters. On the other hand, leaning towards reunification does not mean the total loss of identity, especially, when the mainland China is seeking to define her identity as well. Hong Kong is a living example, her former quasi-independent colonial state yields no better welfare than her present status receiving billions of investment. The longest ocean bridge linking Hong Kong, Macao and Zhu Jiang is a huge investment from Mainland to secure Hong Kong's future competitive position.
Singapore is often used as an example of shinning small independent nation. Is it? Singapore is situated between two large Muslim countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore has an overwhelming ethnic Chinese population but she is too far from China. She had no choice but relying on the U.S. for security, essentially turning herself as a US military base. Lee Kuan Yew was smart to play world politics; so long China's goods came through Singapore port without problem, China would let Singapore to use China to gain diplomatic leverage. Before China became strong enough, Singapore had no choice but to pick the U.S. for protection. Even though the U.S. regarded Lee as a dictator, there was no need for regime change or making Singapore a truly democratic nation so long she sides with the U.S. Taiwan is in an entirely different situation, Taiwan, in close proximity to Mainland, exports largely to the Mainland. Singapore, as a transfer port might diminish in value if other transfer routes to China could be used as substitute. Singapore’s significance as a military base for the U.S. would then diminish accordingly. However, Taiwan will remain forever as a strategic land for China's security; the people in Taiwan must appreciate their Chinese heritage and geopolitical value to the Mainland.
The ridiculous ruling of the arbitration court declaring Taiping Island as a rock not an island is really a good test case for people’s will in Taiwan and the real intension of the Tsai administration. The U.S. or Japan will never take the welfare of Taiwan people, especially Taiwan’s fishermen, into their hearts. Taiping Island saga proves that Taiwan cannot defend her sovereignty nor ocean rights by just taking a pro-US or pro-Japan stand. The Tsai administration cannot negotiate with Japan on Taiwan’s fishing rights (can’t even defend the existing agreement Ma administration had scored) is evidence enough for her wrong Cross-Strait policy. In contrast, by aligning with Mainland China, which values Taiwan's strategic importance forever, and by acting as a 'to be reunified' Chinese people, Taiwan can stand up and have a voice in any negotiation on the world stage. Taiwan voters must understand this political reality.
People in Taiwan have enjoyed democracy for several decades; naturally, people in Taiwan have concerns whether they will lose their democracy if united with the Mainland. From an analyst viewpoint, Taiwan's democracy is as good as the people's intelligence and as valuable as it is perceived as true democracy. The likelihood of Taiwan's democracy being hijacked by party politicians is real and Taiping Island is a proven test. Tsai in her Washington Post interview on July 21, 2016, by Lally Waymouth, cited many times ‘the will of the people’ (民意) as her basis for her policies. Is that really true? When it comes to taking a defending position in Taiping Island and SCS, the people of Taiwan have spoken but they must be clear and leave no room for politicians to be vague or to play word game. Judging on the current development in Taiwan's political affairs, the dropping of performance rating of the Tsai administration, and the boiling emotions of citizens regarding defending Taiwan’s rights (such as the Taiping Island status), one is hopeful that Taiwan's people do understand the importance of the Cross-Strait relationship and its dynamics discussed above.
So to answer the title question, the answer is yes! Taiwan must and can practice an honest democracy to pursue a successful reunification policy to benefit the people!