Letters to the Editor

Trump is coming straight from the Machiavelli playbook

Friday, July 27, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Machiavelli, the guru of the fascist movement, once said that if you are willing to deceive you can always find people who will be deceived.

This belief has been the story of the Donald Trump Administration in the US. President Trump won office by capitalising on a stagnant economy, wherein real wages had not risen since the 1980s. He scapegoated immigrants and promised that he was the saviour who would do something about it.

Now that he is in office he is telling his supporters that they must not believe what they hear or read and must only believe what he says. Unfortunately this is effective politics, as polls show that more and more people believe, for example, that the Russian investigation is a witch-hunt. He says over and over, “I'm bringing back your jobs,” and some voters believe him and are grateful.

This is nothing new. This is how autocrats around the world rule. The first lady said at the Republican convention that, when attacked, Trump will strike back 10 times as hard. This set the tone for his regime and, as Machiavelli said, “A ruler retains authority by obligation, while a feared leader rules by fear of punishment. As a ruler it was better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved.”

Trump satisfies all the requirements of an autocratic leader, such belittling of the press, his disdain for opponents, and his tendency to use force. Republicans are afraid to take him on while the Democrats' attempts to oppose him are paltry.

The history of other countries show that when a society moves from democracy towards autocratic rule it is very difficult to go back. But this path can be self-defeating.

“The benefit of controlling a modern State is less the power to persecute the innocent and more the power to protect the guilty,” a Hungarian once said to David Frum of The Atlantic.

But a corruption-managed society creates its own problems. Public initiatives are viewed suspiciously, so the young take to the streets in public protests and it is easier to play to the fears of the older generation than to ignore the protesters who will always find a way.

Victor A Dixon

Boynton Beach, Florida


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