I'm talking about the alarming events in Russia, Pakistan and Venezuela where attempts have been made to allow presidents to stay in power after terms are up or, in the case of Chavez in Venezuela, be declared "President for Life." That attempt failed by a narrow margin.
Pakistan has had a little trouble this past month when President Musharraf suspended the constitution and declared military rule. He did hand over the military to one of his long time friends - wink, wink.
Now to my personal favorite, Russia voted recently to give more power to the United Russia Party, which is the party of President Vladimir Putin. He will become the country's new prime minister and then whoever is the next president of Russia will be whoever he picks for his puppet.
All these countries have one thing in common, their leaders are trying to gain enough power to stay in office when their terms are up. Once these men gain power they will do almost anything to keep it.
You can always tell when you have a dictator in the making. First they use fear to get the people all worked up, some kind of threat or a real poor economy works too. So they can start to pass laws that erode liberty. Next they like to put their buddies in high seats of power.
There is safety in numbers. One of the most popular appointments for power hungry men is that of putting cohorts onto the highest courts in the land. That way if you get caught breaking a law or two you have you friends say that it's OK.
Next you must convince the people that you are doing a great job. Get a few social programs working and make surplus items real cheap and the people will love you. Then you bring up the bait and switch. You talk the people into voting to sacrifice their rights and make it sound like it's the people's idea.
Part of that mentality is that the President thinks that he is the only person for the job and that his popularity is high so that must mean that the people love him.
No it means that people think that their leaders are doing a good job. Once the masses give all the power and the President doesn't get voted out of office, the President can start to tighten his grip.
Now this may sound easy but if you ask me, this is when things start to get really hard for a want-to-be dictator.
After you have all the power that you ever want, now you have to keep it and remember that everyone is out to get you. It would be real easy for someone else to step into your dictator shoes - heck, you did all the work, and you don't want your brother-in-law to get the advantages.
So now you're going to have to start a new police force just to keep your enemies in check. They might be trying to kill you. It's just too much work and who really has the time, I know I don't
Plus then there is the added pressure of finding an heir to pass down your power to. What if your heir turns out to be an idiot? That may be good for a president but not for a dictator.