The Lust for Personal Power without Popular Support Is Not a Winning Strategy Forever

Amersfoort, Netherlands     In these days, perhaps in all days, when autocracy, as a strategy and set of tactics, seems so attractive to so many politicians and wannabe royals in their lust for power under any terms, there’s some small comfort in seeing such techniques come to wreck and ruin, even if the damage in the meantime is inestimable.

Poor Carrie Lam, the mayor of Hong Kong, is a fair example.  After almost thirteen weeks of escalating protests by pro-democracy adherents both in the streets and behind doors against her Beijing-concocted policy to extradite people to mainland China and its questionable judicial system, she was once again forced to withdraw the extradition proposal.  Of course, having refused to negotiate for weeks while protests went unabated, she has no credibility now, since even conceding seems unilateral, rather than part of a corrective process.  Protests are likely to continue.  Here is the irony.  Reportedly, Lam has been trying to resign in the face of her own impotence before the protests, but has said to associates that Beijing will not allow it.  They have not reported that Beijing told her, you make your bed, you sleep in it, but it’s possible.

Then there’s the tragic case of Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar or Burma, as some still know it, who has gone from the Noble prize-winning ranks to Mandela, King and others to become the stone faced and silent apologist for genocide among the Rohingya people of her country who practice Islam, rather than Buddhism.  Once jailed and quarantined by the country’s military rulers, she has now become their face, rather than their critic, in the midst of unspeakable horrors and the displacement of almost a half-million people.  Is this the price of power?

Globally, British television is more known for its dark crime procedurals than the humor of its comedic farces, which seem tailored more to a local taste, but now we all can witness in real time that the British origin of “House of Cards” is also more likely farcical, than fictional, as we watch the ruthlessness of Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit, once seen as clown, now made the fool.  First, in pure Kevin Spacey fashion, he undermines Theresa May, not that any would really care, but he does so, as she did, heedless to the peril of Great Britain.  Then once he has the Prime Minister’s position, he suspends Parliament creating a constitutional crisis so he can try to ram through Brexit, the withdrawal from the European Union, without debate by running out the clock.  The opposition and some renegades from his own party, vote him down easily, since in his antics he seems to have forgotten that he had only had a one-seat majority.  He then ruthlessly throws twenty-eight nay voters out of his party to try and force an election.  But, like Mayor Lam, having no credibility, there’s no agreement to a snap election without forcing a vote to extend the Brexit deadline.

I flipped channels before collapsing in the Netherlands and got to watch one commentator after another excoriate Johnson in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch.  The message was unmistakable in all languages.

How is bypassing the people in your lust for power working out for any politicians today?  Maybe possible in the short run, but perhaps not for long, giving all of us hope still.

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Confusion Reigns Over Brexit and Immigration Affects All EU Politics

Little Rock   Over and over again I would ask members, organizers, activists and others, “What’s the skinny on Brexit? What’s it going to mean to us and our people?”  The answer was almost invariably a shrug and one of those looks that says, “who the heck knows?”

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of opinions about different directions it might go and the responses many might take.  The Scottish National Party claims that they would revive their push for independence for Scotland if Brexit isn’t to their liking.  Right now, the independence effort is off the radar.  The Labour Party is letting the governing Conservative Party wallow in their own mess.  UKIP is a threat without being a real danger.   But, still no one knows what will happen to jobs and what will happen to immigration and everything connected to both of these front-page issues.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister who is still barely holding on, because no one wants this mess on their shoes, keeps backtracking on one demand after another.  She’s now agreed to pay more than a billion in old bills.  She’s guaranteed that EU residents that are living and working in the UK will be able to stay, regardless of Brexit, though the doors will undoubtedly be closing more tightly with Brexit.

Immigration continues to be the stick stirring the drink all over Europe, and an issue that the EU talks big about everyone handling their share of the weight on refugees, but there’s no enforcement, just a lot of shame-and-blame.  Meanwhile Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and right wing or so-called populist parties in France, Italy, and elsewhere are still making mischief and division over the issue.

More people cared about Wetherspoon’s being out of food and grocery stores being out of eggs and bread, than Brexit.  This looks like a continuing mess of rare proportions.

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