Make no mistake: Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the one language power respects and understands is greater power.
It is rare indeed to discover a politician or other person of power with humility. This type of politician is a rare commodity. Presently in the Virgin Islands, this writer knows just one such individual who appears to meet this high mark of integrity and virtue, but it would be unwise to name them.
Once upon a time in the VI, there was a well-known man who became a leader. This man was the nicest of men and appeared to be truly humble. Then he won an election.
On the very night of celebration, the smile on his bronzed face turned into a smirk. Even his ardent supporters noticed this ominous change.
The very next day, there was a swagger in his step. He became arrogant, and he went on to do the very opposite of what he had promised in his manifesto.
After a number of years, the people were joyful when he finally left office. It was like there was a foot chain on the people that was unlocked, releasing them from bondage.
Then came his predecessors with the usual promises and guarantees. To cut a long story short, the behaviour of his predecessor was even worse.
The simple fact is this: By nature, man is power hungry.
Give a man power and all of a sudden he becomes the “Incredible Hulk.” Some sage mind stated once that if you want to test a person’s character, then “give him power.” Very few men or women can handle power with patience, honesty and humility.
Hence the framers of the United States Constitution were exceptionally wise men who even in the 1700s understood the need to build checks and balances into the governance system to stop a rogue leader or government usurping all power and going in a disastrous direction.
It took the election of Donald Trump hundreds of years later, and his four years in office, to show the full extent of the wisdom of the framers of the world’s most famous political document.
‘Story of history’
Power respects power alone. That has been the story of history, peace and war. Even in high school, the bully only ever becomes fearful when a tougher kid comes along with equal ferocity and aggressiveness. And that is why an effective and permanent check on the executive branch is critical for the VI.
Oversight is a great thing no matter the form it takes. Oversight of the governance infrastructure in the overseas territories rests in the reserve powers of the governor, which in turn resides in the Crown.
And truth be told, the VI has gone decades without the reserve powers being used to any significant extent, as that appears to go against the idea of greater autonomy and self- determination.
However, there comes a time when impunity and abuse of power threaten the very order and stability of a jurisdiction. Whether that time is now is for the legitimately appointed Commission of Inquiry to determine.
So as the cliché goes, “Let the chips fall” and see where they land.
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