DIANE PHILLIPS: The culture of power is changing before our very eyes


Diane Phillips

Through the six decades that I have been writing thousands of published news articles, magazine pieces, more lately columns, I have steered clear of politics and have rarely tapped the overflowing well of famous people whose legacy descends into a downhill slide from grace.

There are several reasons but the most honest is because lots of people do it and they do politics far better than I could. Thank heavens for the pundits who opine and the analysts who assess. They have the patience to spend their time listening to the words of a spout-mouth, sift through them and interpret what they really mean for the future of the planet. Me, I’m simple. Matters of heart and hearth, of sky and sea, of friendship and history and romance, of children growing up, of battling demons and winning or not, of capturing a moment that can never be repeated and holding it in your eyes and gut until you just can’t keep it any more – those slices of life excite me much more.

This aversion to power and ugliness is nothing new. In another life when I had to cover whoever came to the South Florida city where I worked at the prominent daily, I’d be happier spending a day shadowing Erma Bombeck than an hour with a presidential hopeful – and I did both.

Also, to be honest, I lack courage. I’ll stand up for the environment and for better education, for children’s rights, for sea turtles, But don’t label me politically or make me a follower of anyone. Just so long as no one calls me a Trumpster though some of my best friends, people I admire greatly and whose company I truly enjoy, are. I just don’t get it. One thing I will say for him, though. He won the Democratic debate on Wednesday night without even showing up. The U.S. is in trouble.

What does interest me about politics is the stuff of which it is made, its culture, that bubble blown up by power that just gets bigger and bigger, feeding on its own air. When power becomes ingrained and nothing pushes back against it, it fills the bearer with a false sense of bigger, tougher, stronger, more invincible. Inflated bank accounts give rise to inflated egos. The insidious nature of unchecked power will eventually take the too powerful down and their downfall will be gobbled up in a salacious gossip-hungry world whose fires are fed by tweets, WhatsApp and Instagram. Madness witnessed by a few is madness contained, often known as a family secret, but madness unleashed on social media could be as instantaneous as a post and its impact last for a lifetime.

Never before have we seen this kind of avalanche of individuals of extreme wealth topple like a design in the sand washed away by a stiff offshore breeze.

Oh, how the mighty are falling. Jeffrey Epstein who got away with a plea deal in Florida in 2008 was finally nabbed in New York. Epstein was arrested on July 6, 2019 on multiple charges of sex trafficking, including of underage girls. On August 10, just over a month later, he was found hanged in his cell, his death initially ruled a suicide but still under investigation. Two guards admitted falsifying records and two cameras in front of his cell coincidentally malfunctioned.

Although the alleged victims never got their day in court, at least Epstein spared us the horror of watching him trod back and forth to court as we see with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein schlep his decrepit body daily bent over a walker, his once powerful frame that may have traded the innocence of aspiring actresses for harrowing sexual favours and alleged abuse now just that of an old man unable to stand upright.

We see it in the slow meltdown in the first debate performance of former New York Mayor now presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg seeming shocked that he is expected to answer a question about non-disclosure agreements or racially profiled stop and frisk as an acceptable tool for crime control. Bloomberg deserves mountains of credit.

He turned New York around from a crime-ridden city whose residents lived in dirt and fear to one of the cleanest, safest places in America. Yet when faced with a serious question, he was so unaccustomed to being questioned that he reacted in shock and denial, like someone who was just diagnosed with a terminal disease. He fumbled because he never had to learn when he was the only boss he had how to answer to others. Power is a fickle friend and an even fiercer foe.

We saw the abuse of power in the downfall and bankruptcy of the national chapter of Boy Scouts of America because it buried knowledge of sexual predator behaviour for decades, believing it could hide its dirty little secrets because it was so powerful.

The culture of power is changing before our eyes. The MeToo movement helped open our eyes, but we are also growing up because the same devices and social media that made us aware of the filthy and dangerous side of power reminds us in a powerful way that we can take a stance against it. That device that brought us horror videos also silently begs us to stand up against the evil. That is the power each of us has.


truetruebahamian 2 years, 5 months ago

Well expressed, concise and intelligently gathered thoughts. This is a position that has more depth and reality than the opinions and delivery of certain power greedy politicians whose mores and statements are less than acceptable for the positions that they hold and the people they represent


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