There’s a reason why my stomach turned when Hugo Chavez was re-elected president of Venezuela for the third time, and the reasons are very simple: apart from cajoling with dictators such as the late Saddam Hussein, the late Ghaddafi, and Assad, having the nerve to accuse pro-democracy freedom-fighters in Syria and Libya as “terrorists”, supplying their oppressors with oil, and ignoring the rampant crime problem until recently just to win votes, what really started to make me hate the bastard is the idea of anyone holding executive power over their country for a very long time. To allow unlimited terms of office, especially that of the head of state of a nation, is close to that of a dictatorship or a monarchy. Worse still is the animalistic impulse that is created by the corrupting nature of power that makes people with good intentions want to cling to power at whatever cost under a false democratic guise, even if it means rigging elections, like Zimbabwe, which is a perfect example of what happens when there are no term limits to a powerful presidency. Perpetual consecutive terms in office leads to perpetual term in office. There’s a good reason why there should be term limits. Imagine the earth forced to live under the shadow of a third-term Bush presidency. We, the ones living in the New World, would be already living in nuclear winter by now, thanks to Iran’s nukes (if they were real, that is). Despite sympathizing with Chavez’s socialism and socialist policies, I am a democratic socialist. I believe in democracy, to ensure government is strong enough to protect the rights, liberties and equality of the people and to provide for their security and welfare, but restrained enough to ensure that it is not a threat to those very rights.
This raises some very severe concerns about the nature of power vested in someone who holds onto power for too long. However good they are, they eventually personalize it, make it their own, and don’t want to let go at any cost. A public office becomes a private possession. Mubarak, who was rightfully overthrown during the Arab Spring, was, despite elections, grooming his sons to become President, which is sounds like a plan to restore the monarchy in Egypt. First establish long terms of office, usually no more than six years; then establish unlimited terms of office; then groom your sons to inherit the presidency; then give your office more powers; then finally declare yourself president for life; then king. Now you tell me how on earth would anyone that supports democracy would want to do something like that when something like that is, well, horribly undemocratic at every level? There’s also the need to get rid of bad fruit in power and replace them with people who are better, who are willing and able to clean up the mess of their predecessor. Why keep bad apples forever in a barrel of good apples when you can just chuck it out? Also, there’s some people that come in to serve a purpose, then once their purpose has been fulfilled, they should leave. Their time has gone, it’s over, let’s move on. Winston Churchill, for example, was elected to replace Chamberlain and did everything allowed by the powers of his office to ensure victory against fascism and to instill British pride during their finest hour, while Britain’s precious king, who wasn’t unelected, was a mild sympathizer of the Nazis, and did nothing. Yet almost immediately after the war, Churchill lost the election of 1945 since the British people then wanted post-war reforms by a man of peace during peacetime (not to mention that Churchill also had plans to start a third world war, this time pulling a Hitler move by turning against the Soviet ally, and unlike Cincinnatus, refused to resign from his office despite serving his purpose). Makes sense. Choose leaders of war in times of war, choose leaders of peace in times of peace. At least they would do something, unlike our present monarch, who does nothing at all, so why keep it anyway? And if we would want a head of state with power, replace the monarchy with a presidency and be done with it. A question for conservatives: what was the Queen doing during the October Crisis? How was she preventing Trudeau from going too far?
Law should be a double-edged sword to ensure its rule and to ensure equality under it. And when the laws are unjust, they should be changed by governments that can be changed, even at the very top.