Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

The Problem of Absolute Power

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Absolute power cannot be wielded absolutely forever. The exercise of power in institutions and organizations in any social order can spawn the catabolic elements of its own demise, for within the matrix of power’s workings are the tendencies of human beings to exceed the limits of power  particularly in their coercive attempts to maintain and legitimize it.

Thus the dialectics of power configurations, arrangements and regimes create their own sequestrations and limitations and never realize the full dimensions of power objectives which absolutely controls all political outcomes.

And when the successes of power’s dispensation become the excesses of power’s cessation through misapplication, misuse or even abuse, the real or perceived corruption of power which enkindle the continuing erosion of power often precipitates the elemental and structural disintegration of those regimes of truth which sustain and uphold it.

Thus absolute power cannot be wielded absolutely forever particularly when institutions which are subject to their own life cycles, often encroach and infringe  on their own operational norms and rules, and are prone to circumvent or subvert the moral values and foundations upon which those institutions exist and legitimize themselves.

We now have in the arena of national politics in America the incremental dissolution of power particularly related to the Supreme Court nomination process, evidenced by the manner in which the norms and standards of legitimacy and moral authority are deprecated, devalued and even discarded by some Republicans in their frenetic rush to install the Supreme Court nominee at all costs.

In their quest for absolute power, Republicans, it appears, have reached desired outcomes to be sure, but may adversely created the conditions for their own legitimacy by undercutting and undoing the rules governing the selection process.

Accusations and recriminations notwithstanding, Republicans have the power to change this reality not by hardening their Procrustean attempts at subjugating absolute power over Democrats simply because they have the power to do so, but by softening the fulcrums of power by instituting procedural justice and fairness and by restoring a measure of political civility, humanity and equilibrium which historically have been indispensable parts of previous selection processes.

It is the abuse of power absolutely which creates its own culture of disbelief, devaluation and delegitimization in the eyes of political peers and the American people which does the greatest short and long term harm to institutional authority and power. The Latin word “credere” means “to believe in.” Once the people no longer believe in the legitimacy of institutional power the efficacy of those entities lose their capacity to fulfill their duties and carry out their objectives.

The rule is if leaders in government do not follow the established rules by which government should be conducted why should the people place their faith in that government? They should place their faith in government by holding it accountable and challenging it to follow the rules it has established.

If the processes of checks and balances by which American political authority and institutions exert and maintain power can be once again actualized without the political party in power  feeling as though they are losing face, and if Republicans are willing to correct course through processes of procedural and restorative justice by simply doing what’s right by the accusers and Kavanaugh, the folly of absolute power being maintained absolutely under the weight of dissenting moral power and unrelenting pressure may be absolutely averted.

Hunkering down with one party rule by peremptorily steam rolling over all political opponents in a Soviet style show of strength under the rubric of absolute totalizing power only means that Democrats and other political opposition will continue to question the legitimacy of such actions, whose repercussions will linger long into the future and will make even more tenuous American Liberal Democracy long after Donald Trump has left the Oval Office.

Now is not the time for Republicans to become more politically ossified and encrusted in stale, archaic maneuvers of political obfuscation, but a time to take a deep breath, a long pause, and a hard look at how they have gotten to this place. They should loosen up, come to their senses and become more equitable and malleable in doing the right thing so that justice will prevail for both Kavanaugh and his accusers.

Absolute power wielded over extended periods of time never works long-term because arrogance and hubris harden power’s relentless, untrammeled pursuit which eventually peter out and run their course and in the end create those inertial forces which defy and undermine their own political momentum.

The current forms of political absolutism will not work in the end but will only give rise to more outcry and opposition which such absolutes cannot successfully and permanently silence.


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