The question took me by surprise because I had never even considered the possibility that free people would consciously and deliberately choose a totalitarian system.
Of course I was wrong about that. Modern history gives us many examples of exactly that scenario transpiring (consider the Palestinians and what passes for democracy in Iran, or the "99%" of the vote in Iraq for Saddam. (Consider Jimmy Carter smiling and blessing such travesties if you really want to be ill).
My friend Siggy has said repeatedly that democracy is more than just voting, and I completely agree with him... but this article is the exception to that rule because in this case, all of democracy in a great nation hangs on a vote:
On Dec. 2, Venezuelans will be asked to vote on a whopping 69 constitutional amendments that would greatly reduce the country's democratic governance, strip citizens of still more individual liberties and thus expand President Hugo Chavez's power even beyond what it is today. The sad reality is that voters will probably approve the amendments, as Chavez's opponents have been bumbling around, discredited, disorganized and intimidated.
The vote will be bad not only for Venezuela but for the rest of Latin America. Chavez-style demagogues -- Chavistas -- are taking control throughout the region, persuading frustrated voters to jettison their often unresponsive democratic governments for the promise of something better, even if that something is a populist dictatorship.
Chavez already has assumed some of the powers he wants legitimized in the upcoming referendum. Approving the changes will merely legalize what is already in place and further reduce the options and safeguards available to those who disagree with him and his vision of "21st century socialism."
One of the most disturbing ballot items would allow Chavez to run for president as often as he wishes and make it more difficult for voters to recall a president. He could become, in effect, president for life.
Recently, the polls suggest that Venezuelans are not going to give up their democracy without a protest; but does anyone doubt for one minute that the egoistical, incredibly malignant narcissist Hugo Chavez will allow the Venezuelans to dismiss him by a vote? Already, he is calling anyone who doesn't vote for the referendum a "traitor".
Venezuela is on the path to self-destruction.
Dear Hugo is having what I would compassionately call a nervous breakdown. Frankly, he is completely melting down, even comparing himself to Jesus Christ. From the Investors Business Daily link above:
Weekend polls showed that ever since the king of Spain publicly told him to "shut up" in Chile two weeks ago, support for Chavez's move to seize absolute power in Venezuela has fallen below 50%.
Student protests have engulfed Caracas and other towns in protest against his dictatorship. Chavez has denounced them as "rich spoiled brats." But in reality, they often are a pivotal political force, particularly since they include young people from Marxist and lower-class backgrounds.
Meanwhile, the shelves at food stores are empty and TV shows run by shuttered station RCTV have been canceled.
For Chavez, this could be a long, hard winter of discontent. Globally, he's become a laughingstock. He's fighting with Chile's socialist leader, Michelle Bachelet, over high oil prices while at home he is facing some of the strongest challenges yet to his iron rule.
The usual nutjobs at the DU have leaped to the defense of their socialist hero by claiming that he only used a "metaphor" (yeah, right: just like all paranoid delusional patients I treat) and that, since the poor victimized President of Venezuela was viciously attacked and demeaned by the fascist King of Spain, he is justified in his anger.
Imagine, if you will, what they would say if the Bu$hHitler used a Christ metaphor to describe the attacks the left have made without cessation since Bush was elected.
But all that happened to Chavez was that someone finally told the bigmouth who has been badmouthing everyone else to shut up. I wouldn't have even said it so politely, considering the BS that regularly comes out of that mouth. The forebearance and polite patience displayed by any normal person who has to interact with Hugo the clown must be of majestic proportions.
In my professional opinion, the man has crossed over the borderline into the realm of the psychotic. His malignant narcissism/psychopathy is evident to anyone willing to look; and he will not ever give up power easily or willingly. Chavez will either win the "election" that would make him
As with all thugs of Chavez' ilk, eventually dead bodies will fill the streets, and when they do, the morons of the Democratic Underground along with all the morally bankrupt political left will scramble to rationalize and excuse his behavior.
The path to self-destruction is so very easy to follow. Either the Venezuelans will voluntarily walk down that path by "voting" to essentially terminate democracy in their country; or Hugo will order his goons to force them down that psycho path that consolidates his complete power over them.
In either case, the people of Venezuela will eventually have to fight to keep the freedoms they so cavalierly voted away when they entrusted their future to this pathetic man.
UPDATE: Another "metaphor"?
In a speech at an air base west of Caracas on Tuesday, Chavez said Venezuelans will vote "yes" in the referendum to "open the path to a new nation."
"On Saturday, the final attack begins, and Sunday ... it's written: the people will vote and will say yes to the call we're giving to open the path to a new nation," Chavez said, alluding to the referendum that aims to modify 69 of the 530 articles in the constitution.
"We can't go backward, we cannot fail! We're obligated to victory, to continue triumphing. This is a battle of world proportions. And Venezuela, there, modestly there, is playing a very important role," Chavez said.
Or a threat?