Don’t Copy Chávez

Americans eager to weaken various limits on political power here at home should pay closer attention to news from abroad.

Around the globe, killing presidential term limits is high on the to-do list of aspiring presidents-for-life.

Autocrats also dislike the right of citizen initiative. Even when they abstain from trying to kill initiative rights altogether, they often seek outrageous restrictions on them, or even stoop to harassing petitioners and voters.Hugo Cloned

One such enemy of the people was Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, now dead. Chávez was an equal-opportunity attacker of citizen rights. He expropriated businesses, bullied media, once even ordered soldiers to fire on anti-Chávez protesters (they refused). He also succeeded in eliminating presidential term limits.

In 2003, his government arranged for the public release of the names of Venezuelans who had signed a petition to recall Chávez. The names were stolen from the office charged with overseeing the petition drive and leaked to a pro-Chávez legislator, who then published them on his website. Many signers lost jobs, loans, and other opportunities controlled by the state.

American foes of term limits, initiative rights, and other constraints on concentrated power may think there’s no comparison. But every chipping away at protections against tyranny is dangerous.

While it is true that no single limit on power can substitute for all the cultural values and ideas that underlie our rights as free citizens, it is also the case that institutions and culture reinforce each other. The foundation of a building has more than one cornerstone.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar
    8
    11:06
    AM
    Linda Stemberger

    Obugo’s buddy, he learned all he knows from him, both criminal theives

  2. Mar
    8
    1:09
    PM
    Drik

    Senator Nicely of Tennessee is sponsoring a bill that would allow the state legislature to choose the candidates that the citizens vote on for senator, rather than that the choice is directly by the parties, returning 85 % of the accountability to the state, along with commensurate power. This would follow the letter of the law of the 17th Amendment, but get rid of the lawlessness that allows the Senate to be beholding to either parties or to no one. Before the 17th Amendment, senators served terms averaging half as long as today.

  3. Mar
    8
    1:13
    PM
    Drik

    Multiple states now working on versions of that bill. What state in their right mind would not want that power and control back?

  4. Mar
    9
    1:53
    PM
    Jay

    AND THE PEOPLE LOSE A CHANCE TO HAVE A VOICE, HOWEVER SMALL, SHALL BE THEIR SENATOR.

    And the state legislatures are any better? They ( also) look only to protect their own.

    i hoep that this is defeated

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