He who draws his sword against the prince must throw away his scabbard – Italian Renaissance maxim.
America doesn’t have a classic aristocracy. But, does it have an order set above the people? An Americanized aristocracy grew in the 20th century as the sweep of Washington DC’s power exploded across all facets of national, state, local governments and society. The money and influence in Washington are too tempting for the ambitious and avaricious to ignore.
In Chapter IX of The Prince, Niccolo’ Machiavelli paused for a moment from advising kings who clawed their way to the crown through crimes and violence. Instead, in the constitutional principality, citizens elect one of their fellows to the kingship. Mentally replace the words aristocracy/nobility with Deep State when reading Chapter IX, and this lesson is as pertinent today as it was in the early 16th century.
In the constitutional principality, Machiavelli observed that one of two groups of citizens make the new prince: the people or the nobles.
When the king is the favorite of the people, they trust he will check the nobility. It is a tall order because the aristocracy fills his public offices and always has his ear. Machiavelli wrote of the distinction between the interests of the people and the gentry. Where the aristocracy’s natural interest is to expand its wealth and power at the expense of the people, the people just want to be left alone. A timeless observation.
On the other hand, when the nobility make one their own the king, it is done with self-serving intent cleverly cloaked in populist deceit. Having spent decades in government, these senior administration officials protect and enrich themselves by protecting the prince at all costs. Such was the relationship between President Obama and his loyal-to-the-end cabinet secretaries.
President Trump endures precisely what Machiavelli observed when a man becomes prince by favor of the people. He stands alone. Few ministers if any will faithfully follow orders. Many of these hostile nobles will not only desert him but actively oppose him. “The nobles,” he wrote, “have more foresight and are more astute; they always act in time to safeguard their interests, and they take sides with the one whom they expect to win. A prince . . . can well do without the nobles, since he can make and unmake them every day, increasing or lowering their standing at-will.” Such is the relationship between President Trump and the shadowy Deep State.
On the bright side, when he has the people with him, he can make himself safe against the nobles. The people are more honest in their intentions than the nobility, because the latter, while praising the people, quietly conspire against them.
The prince should reward and praise his wise and unambitious ministers. He will have nothing to fear from them in adverse times. In fact, after his election to office, the manning of his administration is the first measure of the prince’s judgement. Their competency and loyalty reflect well or ill on the prince.
Beware the cunning and distant minister. If (s)he works for self-enrichment, like Hillary Clinton, and accumulates power, (s)he will turn on the prince in adverse times. Machiavelli believed that a “man entrusted with the task of government must never think of himself but of the prince.” In the American Republic, the sovereign prince to whom all in service swear allegiance isn’t another person; it is the Constitution. For those who conduct themselves otherwise, Presidents should regard these people as declared enemies and be ready to strike them down.
A prince made by the people must work to keep their favor. When challenges arise they will stand by him. Machiavelli disputes the trite proverb that he who builds on the people builds on mud. He drew a distinction between petty demagogues who whip up the people’s passing emotions and the prince who builds his support on the general welfare, who commands respect, does not fade in adversity, wins general allegiance through his public virtue and “the institutions he establishes.” The people will never let such men down, especially when they strive to leave enduring institutions behind.
One man standing alone is usually required to create a republic or reform the institutions of an old and corrupted body politic.1 He put it this way, “The salvation of a republic or a kingdom is not, therefore, merely to have a prince who governs prudently while he lives, but rather one who organizes the government in such a way that after his death it can be maintained.”
Despite President Trump’s best efforts to save our republic from the sword of the Deep State Aristocracy, he is limited; he is not a tyrant.2 I fear the myriad forces against him will prevail.3 But, through his support of an Article V COS, he could lead our nation around a hopelessly corrupt Congress and federal court system. An end run, a flanking movement against criminal American aristocrats, the Deep State and its supporters, is the way to drain the swamp and possibly save the American Republic.
1. On Corruption and Government Part I Niccolo’ Machiavelli.
2. The questionable 1976 Emergency Act.
3. Joe Di Genova: “The American people are being treated to a dose of reality about Washington, D.C. Comey is a symptom. The disease is a voracious, rapacious government filled at high levels by people of immense ego and viciousness. Whether it is the IRS’s Lois Lerner, Comey, or the political thugs Obama installed at the highest echelons of the U.S. Department of Justice, the CIA, the DNI, and the NSC, they all share a common bond: allegiance to a cause unrelated to the Constitution, a cause borne of disdain for the average American and dedicated to power and its use and abuse against political enemies. That meant that the rules of the constitutional game no longer applied because the end result – removing Trump – had a higher moral value. Indeed, it was a moral necessity.”