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The cost of allowing power to come at all cost

When the President is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution allows the Vice President and a majority of heads of the executive departments to formally declare the Vice President as Acting President, and divest the President of all authority.

Given the subnormal mental capacity of the current President, his incompetence, conflicts of interest, cronyism, and his ignorance of the rule of law, invoking this section of the 25th Amendment would seem the logical and honourable action of American leaders.

But of course, they never will. The majority of lawmakers are Republican who will not declare Trump unfit for office and invoke the 25th Amendment. In a world of hyper-partisanship, the lust to hold office overrides the dignity of that office.

Trump is obviously unfit for public office. He treats the Presidency as his kingship, and the Republican Party are his enablers. They judge their success on how much Obama era legislation they can dismantle, not the health and wellbeing of their citizenry.

This hyper-partisanship undermines democracy and is underpinned by point scoring over opposing ideologies. Compliant mainstream media fans the flames, and social media pours on the petrol.

Trump is the example again. His childish rants on Twitter are reported by decent media as childish, but reported by the Murdoch empire as doctrine. Right wing websites attack the left-leaning media, and Trump attacks journalists who dare question his credibility, honesty, intelligence, or power. The gullible swallow the claims of the real fake news pedalled by Trump and his cronies.

The net result is a growing schism between the supporters of the cult of Trump and the rest of the country. The cultists are being emboldened to regress to the power trips of old, where racism and guns ruled, and African-Americans were second class commodities.

Witness the recent freedom given to heavily armed white people to protest in the Michigan state capital building, and the investigation of the murder of a young black man (who was set upon by two white men whilst innocently jogging in the street) being deliberately hindered by the county district attorney as examples of the divide between the powerful and the powerless.

These are the bastions of old power demanding relevance in the current day and will be fully tested in six months’ time at the election. Trump will take re-election as full permission to continue his divisive behaviour and cronyism. Alternatively, defeat could likely not result in the accepted practice of the peaceful transition of power, with his supporters unwilling to give up the control they have come to expect. And they are armed and dangerous.

In Australia, we too have a federal government built around a marketer whose lust for power outshadows his ability. Although he claims his ascension to the Prime Ministership was accidental and he is just an ordinary bloke with no power ambitions, his political path reveals otherwise.

Long serving Liberal Party and Sutherland Shire local Michael Towke easily won the first ballot for pre-selection to the seat of Cook in 2007. He scored 10 times the number of votes as Scott Morrison, 82 to 8. Then the smear campaign to get Morrison pre-selected started. On the word of several senior Liberals, Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph printed four stories suggesting Towke to be a serial liar. The adverse publicity and intervention of the state Liberal executive caused an unprecedented second ballot, which Morrison won. A Lebanese Christian would not get to represent the seat of Cook.

Tellingly, a defamation case brought by Towke was settled by News Corp just before the commencement of court proceedings, thus avoiding revealing the back-room dealings. Evidencing the power-play of Morrison’s backers, Towke said at the time “these guys were prepared to ruin my life”.

Fast forward past his years as Immigration Minister with his Stop the Boats posturing, Morrison projected himself as the reluctant candidate in the leadership spill of 2018. This should not be believed. Against a background of LNP chaos and fronting attacks on Labor’s death tax, Morrison campaigned aggressively in spite of the polls giving him little chance of victory.

Following the ‘miracle’ result however, the depths of his power lust have come to light. He stands at press conferences berating reporters Trump style and objecting to their lines of questioning, knowing full well he approved a spending splurge that would embarrass Labor if they had come to power.

The latest revelations in the sports grant rorting affair points the finger directly at the Prime Minister’s Office. He has failed to act on the rorting of parliamentary expenses, preferential infrastructure, and job funding to marginal Coalition seats, and required Barnaby Joyce to submit nothing more than a few text messages to justify his $675,000 in Drought Envoy expenses.

This is the disconnect between the public image of power and what happens behind closed doors. Power for the sake of power and the satisfaction of vested interests should no longer be tolerated. Beware the power-seeker who refuses transparency, and those who confuse power with leadership.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and democracy is not a plaything of the wealthy and connected.

Greg Smart

By his own admission, Greg Smart was born 40 years old and is in training to be a cranky old man. He spends his time avoiding commercial television and bad coffee.