Lifting term limits
President Xi Jinping of Communist China wants to be a modern-day emperor of his country. From all indications, he wants to rule for life. Those indications are his supposed “willingness” to stay in office for life if term limitations in the nation’s constitution are abolished, and extensive state propaganda alleging that the Chinese masses want Xi to be president for life.
As expected, the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, euphemistically called the National People’s Congress and composed of legislators handpicked by the ruling politburo dictated upon by Xi, is set to approve the amendment of the constitution to accommodate Xi’s imperial ambitions.
Despite the Communist Party’s insistence that the amendment of the constitution has the “unanimous support” of the masses, the commentaries of Chinese nationals on the social media reveal otherwise, that is, until they were deleted by state censors.
Despite Beijing’s shameless clampdown on dissent, many businessmen, teachers, religious figures, and retired government officials were able to disseminate their opposition through the international news media. Even a retired editor of the state-owned newspaper publicly denounced the measure and called it “sowing the seeds of chaos.”
Xi will inevitably get what he wants, and when that happens, Communist China will have a modern-day emperor in the mold of Mao Zedong, the father of Chinese communism who ran his country with an iron fist from 1949, when he seized power, and for the entirety of his life, which ended almost three decades later.
When a nation’s leader gets to rule for life, that country is certainly headed for an absolute dictatorship despite official claims to the contrary. If that happens, that country should relinquish any claim to being a republic and assume the designation of an absolute monarchy, or a hard-line communist state.
World history provides many illustrative examples.
To repeat, immediately upon seizing power in 1949, Mao installed a communist government in China. A centralized command economy was quickly set in place by Mao to showcase agricultural achievements under the communist yoke, but it ultimately led to a massive famine in the countryside and death for 30 million peasants.
This was followed by Mao’s deadly “cultural revolution” that lasted for several years and which purged the Chinese mainland of artists and scientists and threatened its cultural heritage. Fundamental freedoms like free speech and press freedom did not exist under Mao, who ruled until his death in 1976. Incidentally, Mao’s physician later revealed that Mao did not observe dental hygiene.
Joseph Stalin was the dictator of the now defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He sanctioned the mass murder of millions of his people whom he suspected to be enemies of his regime. Stalin ruled with an iron hand until his death some three decades after he took power.
Nicolae Ceacescu and his greedy wife held power in post World War II Romania for more than 40 decades until they were overthrown and lynched by their own exasperated people. They led ostentatious lives while their fellow Romanians lived in fear and poverty.
Since its inception in 1945, communist North Korea has been ruled by three generations of absolute rulers from one family—the Kim family—each one succeeding the predecessor upon the former’s death. North Koreans are systematically brainwashed, and they live in constant fear.
North Korea’s current juvenile population is severely malnourished. Famine constantly stalks the countryside because the nation’s money is used in developing nuclear weapons and maintaining one of the largest standing armies in the world.
African dictators who ruled for life and who ran their respective countries to the ground include Idi Amin of Uganda, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic.
Amin brutally persecuted Ugandans who did not belong to his tribe, and allowed Arab terrorists who hijacked an Israeli airliner sanctuary in his country. He was known to eat parts of the anatomy of his murdered enemies.
Mugabe, who was in power for 40 years, lived a life of scandalous luxury with his equally vain second wife. His people have lived in endless poverty and squalor. The military ended his dictatorship a few months ago.
Bokassa crowned himself “emperor” of the Central African Republic, and spent used up his nation’s annual budget for his “coronation.” When Bokassa ran out of food for his “royal” reception, he had several political prisoners executed, cooked, and served to his unsuspecting guests. He was eventually kicked out of power by an angry military establishment.
Arab leaders like Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also ruled for life.
Gaddafi used his country’s oil export revenues to finance world terrorism, and his sons raped many women, often on a daily basis. He was eventually killed by his own people in an uprising.
Mubarak shamelessly enriched himself in office until he, too, was forcibly ousted from power.
For almost two hundred years, the Constitution of the United States did not impose any limitation on the number of terms the president can be elected to. Despite the absence of such a limitation, no American president held office for more than two terms. The only exception was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was elected to an unprecedented four terms from 1933 until his death in 1945.
Roosevelt was president during most of the years constituting World War II. Although he was a very able leader, his political opponents insisted that he was overstaying in office.
In 1951, the Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States limited the election of a president to a maximum of two terms. This measure effectively prevented popular politicians from monopolizing high elective office in America.
Like their American blueprint, the 1935 Constitution and the present charter of the Philippines have term limitations on the presidency.
In fine, a legally mandated limit on how long a leader, even an elected leader, may stay in office, is a very important component of a functioning democracy. Lifting term limits on elective public office does not encourage growth in the nation’s political leadership.