Machiavelli on the Romney campaign

“Whoever wishes to deceive will always find another who wishes to be deceived.”

“People are so simple, and so dominated by their present needs, that whoever wishes to deceive will always find another who wishes to be deceived.”

From The Prince, Chapter XVIII. Admittedly the translation is somewhat free; the Italian goes: “e sono tanto semplici li uomini, e tanto obediscano alle necessità presenti, che colui che inganna troverrà sempre chi si lascerà ingannare.”

So the last phrase is really something like “one who will let himself be deceived.” But in my misspent youth I saw something close to the phrasing above in a translation I can no longer find, and much prefer it to the less poetic version Machiavelli actually gave us.

In this case, Romney is promising the folks who don’t want “their money” spent on “those people” that he will save the money without actually making any actual human being – other than a public employee – actually suffer. And they want to believe him.

That’s over and above the usual con-artist’s trick of making the dupe believe that he’s in on the con: the respectable Republicans want to believe that he’ll betray the wingnut haters, and the wingnut haters are sure that he’s going to double-cross the respectable folks.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

2 thoughts on “Machiavelli on the Romney campaign”

  1. When the topic of Romney behaving deceitfully comes up I immediately wonder whether he is aware of it. How can he not be, I argue to myself? The answer to that is invariably worse than simply allowing him the luxury of ignorance. Either way the people have thrown up an enormously flawed candidate. Have they no awareness of this? Are they really that simple and dominated by their present needs? Do we have a chance to keep the Republic?

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