“One Person, One Vote, One Time” describes the phenomenon of democratic [with a small d] societies electing leaders who intend to change the institutions of government to ensure their own political survival. Examples in history are many, but most recently Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez did not eliminate elections, but he so stacked the deck through policy changes, intimidation of opponents, and politicization of the military, that free and fair elections became difficult if not impossible.

Is such an event possible here? We would like to think not, but the conduct of this election gives me pause for concern.

The single most disconcerting event of this election took place in Missouri. Obama’s campaign enlisted a group of state and local prosecutors to threaten to prosecute anyone who told “lies” about Obama. The prosecutors were not acting in their official capacity, but were using their titles on behalf of the Obama campaign to intimidate opponents of Obama. The threat of criminal prosecution of political criticism caused Missouri Governor Matt Blunt to issue this rebuke:

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

If this were an isolated incident of intimidation, I might not be moved to write this article. Unfortunately, the stifling of criticism through intimidation has been a hallmark of the Obama campaign. I have documented, in a previous post, how the Obama campaign has used false accusations of racism against both the Clinton and McCain campaigns to stifle legitimate criticism of Obama’s record:

“The suppression of legitimate political expression through false accusations of racism by the Obama campaign and its supporters is the defining theme of the 2008 campaign. This tactic, while it may be successful, is shameful and has damaged our society in ways we may not understand for years.”

The Obama campaign also used its large e-mail list to shut down radio call-in lines when critics of Obama were appearing as guests. This campaign is documented here.

These tactics are not by happenstance. Obama himself has urged his supporters to confront his opponents: “I want you to argue with them, get in their face….” Obama’s statement mirrors the intimidation efforts by his campaign. Leaders who urge their supporters to “get in the face” of political opponents are sowing the seeds of violence and intimidation, and cannot disclaim responsibility when the followers get out of hand.

Equally troubling are the changes proposed by Obama which seek to destroy rather than foster open political debate and free and fair elections. An excellent article on RedState chronicles these changes, including the destruction of secret union balloting, re-institution of the “Fairness Doctrine,” and abolition of voter identification laws (particularly shocking in light of the ACORN voter registration fraud).

Michael Barone has an equally compelling account of The Coming Obama Thugocracy:

“Obama supporters who found the campuses congenial and Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech that they don’t like and seem utterly oblivious to claims that this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.”

If Obama wins this campaign in two days, you should expect the politics of intimidation to have the full backing of the executive and legislative branches of government, each of which will be completely controlled by Democrats (with a capital D).

Only the judiciary will stand between the public’s right to elections free from fraud and intimidation, and massive voter fraud schemes hatched by ACORN and its supporters. Only the judiciary will be in a position to prevent the stifling of free speech through speech codes and the prosecution of unpopular speech. The “rule of law” will be all that separates this country from moving down the political path toward Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Will the judiciary be up to the task? Will Obama’s ability to nominate federal judges taint the independence of the judiciary? Will this be the last truly free election? What’s most troubling is that I never thought I would have to ask myself these questions.