It has been both instructive and alarming to watch events unfold in Washington in recent days; but, oddly, it has also been heartening. There are lessons to be learnt, and it appears as if Americans might at last be realising the bitter truth about their parody of a president. It is heartening to see the erosion of the “credibility” of the massive ego at the heart of the current administration as even his ultra right-wing support begins to wilt. The alarm comes with the danger to us all with the breakdown in American government.
Whether we like it or not, America remains the only true super-power in both military and economic terms. As such, it has as many enemies as it has friends. Crude and insensitive behaviour on the international stage is not peculiar to Trump, but he and his cronies have taken it to new heights (or depths!). As the saying goes, if America sneezes, we all catch a cold. Thus, if it seeks military solutions to international problems, we are all potentially placed in the line of fire.
Remember, America prides itself on its constitutional arrangements whereby the three arms of state power are separated – the executive (i.e. the President); Congress; and the courts. Yet they now have a president with no regard for constitutional niceties, and who is trying to dominate his country (and elsewhere) through his own monstrous prejudices. It is disturbing to observe as a technically independent Congress fails in its duty to restrain him.
One can argue that America is currently a one-party state. Theoretically, the Republican Party controls the presidency, the senate and the House of Representatives. Through the latter, they also control appointments to the Supreme Court – hugely important in American public life. Nevertheless, because of one man’s ego, and the political cowardice of the Republican Party, the current administration is being viewed as the worst ever in United States history and out of control. What can WE learn from this?
Firstly, that one party rule is disastrous. It inevitably reduces accountability and transparency. Internal factions and feuding become the order of the day as political corruption takes a deadly grip. Personal advancement becomes the only measure of political success. Leadership grows ever more detached from reality, buoyed by a belief that their mandate takes them over and above the bounds of conventional political behaviour.
Thereafter, the leadership in such a dominant party is in danger of political paranoia, looking for plots and conspiracies within party ranks. As pressures increase, so does the influence of “friends” and advisers, both official and unofficial. Dependant on the leadership for their own fortunes, the temptation for the latter is to say what they believe the leadership wants to hear, rather than “speaking the truth unto power”. Of course, if the leadership weakens or is inept, real power drifts to these advisers and to paid officials.
Unfortunately, intellectually limited leaders tend to believe that, like Trump, they have much more to offer than is actually the case. Devoid of a meaningful opposition and sycophantically supported within the ranks of the governing party, they quickly sow the seeds of their own demise, along with that of their party. It is merely a matter of time before they are held to account. It is why it is in the political interests of ALL parties to insist on the twin pillars of real democracy – true and full accountability and transparency.