Research paper, Pages 6 (1435 words)
PHI 205 – Ethics
13 December 2018
The Prince in Modern American Political Parties
In Machiavelli’s The Prince, Machiavelli provides an examination of the actions taken in order to effectively acquire and maintain power. This paper will focus on the similarities by which the current American political system follows the Prince’s methods. Machiavelli’s observation of the methods used in the past reflect the methods used in the American political parties to maintain their control, such as the importance of deception, the ability to rally support, and the juggling with different extensions of power.
This essay will examine then the necessity of Machiavelli’s advice in current American political parties.
While acquiring power is not necessarily an evil action, it is by no means taken by those with absolutely pure intentions. For Machiavelli, it is not necessary for a leader’s moral character to be a factor for rulership as to Machiavelli the only thing necessary is being able to take power and keep control of it .
While Machiavelli’s writings were for ruling a principality, there are many aspects of his advice can be used in the context of American political parties. While the political parties are not going to go to the same lengths that Machiavelli’s person of study, the Duke of Milan, will to the achieve their goals, the intent that they will do their actions are similar. One such aspect is he believes that a leader must be able to use deception as a part of their skills.
Specifically, he believes that it is important for a leader to be able to shift attention to achieve one’s goals. One such example comes from Machiavelli’s The Prince by the following excerpt:
Because he realized that the rigorousmeasures of the past had generated a certain amount ofhatred, in order to purge the minds of the people and to win themcompletely over to his side, he wanted to show that, if any form ofcruelty had occurred, it did not originate from him but from theviolent nature of his minister.
Machiavelli understands from the exploits of the Duke of Milan that for every ruler there must always be a proper time and setting to undertake certain actions as not everything that worked in one case will be all to work in another. This then makes it necessary to shifting attention towards other as to prevent anger being directed at the leader themselves so that the reputation of the leader is able to remain intact. Within the same vein, the idea can be applied to political parties when it comes to elections of political candidates. To avoid discussion of certain policies they may not wish to discuss, a candidate may attack their opponents’ character so as to deflect the attention of the voting electorate so that they may hate the opponent to not vote for them. While the Duke used his minister “… to show that, if any form of cruelty had occurred, it did not originate from him but from the violent nature of his minister” so that he is able to have him killed and appease the people, a political party will do this to the opposing party as a way for the electorate to be dissatisfied for the actions of their opponents and thus gain vote to support their party.
As it is important to use this kind of deception to obtain power, these kinds of methods can only go to a certain extent before it can become a detriment to the ones using these methods. To supplement this, it is equally important for a ruler to be able to rally support, usually by showing appreciation to a supporter by making promises. Machiavelli makes this a point when discussing the need of the Duke to gather support as “The Duke did not fail to employ every kind of gracious act to reassure Paulo, giving him money, garments, and horses, so that the stupidity of the Orsini brought them to Senigallia and into his clutches.” This is to show that a ruler can gain support from potential allies, it is necessary to gift them with promises of wealth or more power so that it is easier to sway them to the rulers’ side. In the context of American politics, one of the common methods by which political parties can gather support is by the use of lobbying. The definition of lobbying is “to influence (members of a house of the legislature) in the exercise of their legislative functions by frequenting the lobby. Also, to procure the passing of (a measure) through Congress by means of such influence”. In other words, it is a method by which a political entity garners support so that they have the ability to dictate legislation to suit one’s needs. Now the primary method by which a lobby gains support from a political party is similar to the Duke’s methods, such as a party supporting a potential candidate by donating funds to a candidate’s election campaign. This is done in the hopes that the political candidate they are endorsing will push legislation the will benefit the lobby’s goals. At the same time, however, Machiavelli warns that any leading entity has to be able to garner support for allies but must be careful as not be too dependent on their help. As stated Machiavelli in the Prince, “Such men depend solely upon two very uncertain and unstable things: the will and the Fortune of him who granted them the state.” In the context of political parties, it must mean that those same political candidates must be careful that they do not rely too much on the goodwill of lobbies, as a political candidate may owe many favors to lobbies and thus be unable to push their own or the party’s own legislation.
It is important to keep in mind that a political party will have further complications in their bids to power when compared to individual princes as they have worry about the different ways by which they can control the will of the power. As stated by Machiavelli himself in The Prince:
kinds of governments are the Turk and the King of France. One ruler governs the entire kingdom of the Turk; the others are his servants; anddividing his kingdom into sanjaks,* he sends various administratorsthere, and he moves them and changes them around as hepleases. But the King of France is placed among a group ofhereditary nobles who are recognized in that state by their subjects and who are loved by them; they have their hereditary privileges, which the King cannot take away without endangering Himself.
As shown by the two examples, a state can be run by either by having a central head and others acting as an extension of one’s influence or by having multiple heads work together to run a government. In this way, political parties run in a combination of the two methods of control that a prince doesn’t use. On the one hand, a political party function similarly to the Turks system in the sense that the political parties are controlled by party leaders with each member of the work to follow the will of the leaders by trying to push the party’s agenda. On the other hand, due to the very nature of the United States government, like the system used by the French, each member of the government, regardless of political party affiliation, acts similarly to a noble in the sense that they rule a specific area of territory and thus have their own degrees of influence. As a result, every member of a political party has to be able to compromise their interests with that of the interests of the political party as they do not always coincide with each other.
While Machiavelli had written his work during the 1500s in a time with principalities, many of his advice concerning acquiring and maintaining power still rings true in modern politics of democracies, especially in America. Although his work was dedicated to advising an individual ruler, many pieces of his advice that are used in American political parties such as the need to shift attention, the ability to gather support, even the use of different of governing styles to be able to maintain one’s power. While the environment and circumstance we live have changed considerably from the past, the intention to gain and sustain power remains the same even to the modern day. While the methods by which the political parties gain power can be for the better or worse, by understanding how similar political parties gain their power; one can strive to use this understanding to their advantage for the improvement of society.
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The Prince Research paper (2). (2019, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-prince-research-paper-2-example-essay