Wednesday, February 2

Here's the blueprint...

Many Americans believe our democracy is healthy and in no danger of ending. After all, it's lasted over 230 years, so...

But a democracy can implode into one-man rule at any time. You say you're skeptical? Here's how it's done:

Venezuela was a democracy--representative government, regular elections, pretty good standard of living. Then the socialist Chavez got in.

After eight years as president, Chavez had four years remaining on what the law said should have been his second and last term. But he wanted to stay, so he proposed a constitutional amendment that would have repealed term limits on *all* elected officials. (Note the attempt to reduce any criticism by having the bill apply to *all* officials instead of just the president.)

The amendment was defeated.

So two years later he tried again, and this time the "referendum" passed, allegedly with 54 percent of the vote.

Yesterday, as expected, he announced that he would run for a third term.

And of course he's legally able to run for as many years as he wants.

All nice and legal.

Politicians who know how to stuff ballot-boxes, bribe legislators and voters can get almost any law or amendment passed, no matter how self-serving or merely hideous.

Sort of like, oh, "free" medical care for everyone, paid for by the half of the people who pay taxes.

Geez, why does that sound familiar?

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