Why can't American Presidents be openly Machiavellian?:

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On thinking about this, I concluded that you _can_ be openly machievellian, or openly secretive, depending on your definition of openly. Many people have, and don't bother to hide, a well-earned reputation for being secretive and manipulative. For example, the Discworld's Patrician, the FBI, and many third-world dictators. O' course, there's a difference between their being open and you knowing _what_ they are up to. You just hope whatever it is doesn't involve you.I'm pretty sure that's what the OP was getting at.

@Ailedhoo - good points about Stalin. However I think people very much were afraid of the man himself, not just his vast secret police. Stalin made people both fear and love him, which as Machievelli says, is difficult but the best option of all. Well, the best option if you're an unelected tyrant.
Even elected leaders need you to fear their power to some degree; otherwise, they wouldn't be able to effectively enforce their laws.

That said, I think Machiavelli's point in that passage, if I remember correctly, had more to do with how a prince needed to deal with the people around him. Many people thought that making those closest to you (if you wield sufficient power) love you would be a safe guarantee of their loyalty; the truth is, when the chips are down, it's going to take a whole lot more love than most people are going to give you to keep them from turning on you to save their own hides. It's possible, of course, but the people who remain with you due to love (when the chips are down) are going to be a much smaller group than those who remain with you because they're too afraid to risk betraying you.

When most people are in danger, the first thing they think about is going to be themselves; Person A can try to threaten or bribe Person B to turn against you, but if person B knows that you are both more dangerous, and can offer them more, they will be much less likely to betray you. That was the point being made in the book.
Because most of the population is apathic or something.

I mean you could easily argue that most of the presidents were Machiavellian, just no one calls them out on it.

Reagen was known as the Teflon president for a reason, and Clinton was extremely good at working off public opinion to his favor.
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I'd say that most, if not all the American presidents to date have been Machiavellian to some degree; they just all had to hide it for various reasons. When the stakes are high, it's never a good idea to look as clever as you actually are; a little obfuscation can go a long way.
80 johnnyfog16th Jan 2012 07:04:13 AM from the Zocalo , Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
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True. Politicians need to seem a little dull-witted to woo the public (Though some take it too far, like Rick Perry). I suppose that inevitably leads to Machiavelli.
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