Our leaders should always serve with integrity and openness

  • So it shall be written: protesters with Kremlin Annex with a light sign that reads “No one is above the law” call to impeach Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington in September (File photograph by Carolyn Kaster/AP)

    So it shall be written: protesters with Kremlin Annex with a light sign that reads “No one is above the law” call to impeach Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington in September (File photograph by Carolyn Kaster/AP)


Once again history has been made with the congressional impeachment of Donald Trump. The President of the United States is the third in my lifetime — fourth in 200 years, out of 45 presidents — indicted to be impeached. I recall the first impeachment witnessed in my lifetime and remember the overriding display that came out as the shining star, which was that the system worked.

The idea positioned by the founding fathers that the constitutional framework had within it the remedies for correcting itself was now proven. To catch corruption or abuses among leaders and end them was thought to be established.

The republic, a self-governing entity that was formed after a revolution against monarchism, recognising its own imperfections, put mechanism in place to provide oversight for its leadership.

The monarchs could do no wrong, nor could they be removed unless they committed clear acts of lunacy and were declared insane. The parliamentary system, which is an outgrowth from monarchism, considers the parliament as supreme and the one which commands the majority as its leader.

Under the parliamentary system, the vote of no confidence is used to remove a leader, and in this process, since the leader is a parliamentary choice, the whole government goes down unless a clear majority leader is established forthright — sparking a General Election.

The Senate provides a little oversight, but only over legislative matters — none over the leaders. Parliament can also censor a member or the leaders, which may cause them to reflect on their conduct, and aside from a little embarrassment, that’s it.

Where there is no legislative vehicle for recall of Members of Parliament, there is virtually nothing that the electorate or anyone can do to remove a leader when they are clearly abusing their power.

The world will wait while it is determined in real time whether America returns to a monarchy with a leadership that is systemically unimpeachable or not. We call our system a constitutional monarchy; therefore, leaders have systemic immunity but are more vulnerable to the disposition of their parties or Cabinet colleagues than the electorate.

Unfortunately, under Westminster governments, the electorate is structurally too removed from the leaders, who, depending on the size and constitutional make-up of the party organisations to which they belong, actually reign like monarchs with no oversight.

It has long been observed that leaders need the right tools to lead, enabling them to be viewed effectively like a monarch. The issue has always been on the presumption of “We need a king”, but it’s whether “the monarch is of our making or a monarch of their own inherent right”. The thought being, if the monarch is of the people’s making, then they serve at the pleasure of the people, and when the people are displeased, the people can remove them.

Invariably, people almost everywhere in the world want the leverage to provide oversight over their leaders. It is only their leaders, in the main, who want and prefer to be monarchs and call their excesses either as privilege or the system they inherited.

Few leaders have or display the type of humility for the kind of openness that allows them to be answerable to the electorate or even their own parties.

Leaders who hold their role to serve the nation with integrity and openness above their personal needs and biases. While a road lined with openness and humility is the most honourable path, it is also the path least travelled.

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Published Dec 30, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 30, 2019 at 7:34 am)

Our leaders should always serve with integrity and openness

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