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A taste for unrestricted power

Published: 
Sunday, June 10, 2018

Warnings against President Donald Trump converting the USA into a Third World dictatorship have been eclipsed by the emerging, far more apocalyptic threat of him seriously undermining the political, law and order systems, and the economic and social structure of that country.

Moreover, if this President’s form of governance and social behaviours are allowed by the Congress, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the body politic to become accepted practice in government and politics, it could have resonance around the world.

If he were to succeed, he could become the model for leaders disposed to demagogic rule, and those with a mind to eliminating balancing institutions and restraining forces.

The US President, reputed to be the most powerful leader in the world, has already warned the legal system and the Congress that if they were to produce convictions against him and his associates, he has the countervailing power of the pardon to use liberally.

Trump’s television attorney, Rudy Giuliani, aiming to mobilise the Trump base to the cause, and against institutional jurisdiction and authority, says his President could have shot FBI Director James Comey, and he would still be free of criminal indictment.

Trump is clearly enthralled by the power held and exercised by his compatriots Putin, Xi, and Jong-un over their societies. In his bizarre flights of fancy, he must salivate over the thought of subjugating completely, the American political culture and institutions.

Trump is working at supplanting the international multilateral trading platform with a series of bi-lateral trading relationships in which the USA dominates individual countries.

Internally, Trump has already begun to reinvigorate the neo-liberal system in its most rabid form, starting with a grossly regressive tax system. As indicated by several economic analyses, the system gives large corporations, multi-millionaires, and billionaires tax bonuses to the total value of hundreds of billions of dollars, while dribbling small, short-term benefits to middle-income earners.

The tax system will inevitably expand economic and social inequity, and engender enmity in the relations between and among socio-economic groups. His continuing invidious statements and actions clearly in favour of his hardcore constituency are widening antagonisms among ethnic and racial groups inside and outside of the USA.

Very dangerously, the US president is deliberately spreading hate of the free media that continue to be critical of his policies, initiatives, lifestyle, and his glaring inconsistencies. It is a calculated effort designed to undermine the credibility of the media as they report on and analyse the ever-spreading investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

President Trump, in his international relations overtures and policies, shields an aggressive and deceptive Russia from scrutiny. The question remains as to his motive for placing this screen around Russian aggression and aspirations.

At the same time that Trump is ceding ground and creating negotiating space for a non-compliant and renegade North Korea (not that it is not a worthy initiative to rein-in a brutal regime in Pyongyang), he is stirring conflict in the Middle East.

He must surely have appreciated that recognising Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel in isolation of a balanced and overall settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict would antagonize Palestinians, the Arab world, and Iran, and create the conditions for open conflict.

The grave danger is in the effect that such policies and positions can have on the practice of democracy in countries heavily influenced over the last 100 years by American political, social and economic stability, and prosperity.

So far, the American political and administrative system is resisting the intentions of President Trump, and with some cunning too. For instance, what seemed like a complete capitulation by the DOJ to the demand of the White House (Trump) for investigative materials to be disclosed to a select group of the Congress has turned Republican Majority Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell into a supporter of the Mueller probe.

Ultimately, this is not merely a contest between Trump, internal institutions, and segments of the US population; any deterioration in the situation must have serious implications across the free and not-so-free world.

The hope must be for the forces against Trump’s domination and determination to re-make America to prevail against his ambitions. However, the experience should indicate to the American political establishment the need to revisit the institutional frame of presidential power.

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