As I listen to the nauseating campaign ads for the 2012 US presidential election, it makes me think back to previous years when my preferred candidate did or didn’t win. In cases where my guy lost, I assumed it was because more voters supported or turned out for the other candidate. I didn’t worry that the winner had cheated (too much). I also thought to myself that it was for eight years at most. More likely four, if he turned out to be as bad as I feared. Whatever the case, I’ve never worried that any president would change the constitution and make himself “leader for life.” Call me naïve, but I just don’t think any politician could get away with that here. It would go so strongly against American political beliefs and democratic values, against what is accepted.
I’ve thought about this because I’ve studied other countries, like the Republic of Georgia, where leaders stay in power long after a large part of society wants them out. There, people told me President Eduard Shevardnadze seemed “eternal” because he had ruled Georgia in one capacity or another for decades. Shevardnadze and the members of his ruling party wanted to stay in power, so they doctored the election results as necessary. (more…)