Monday, June 13, 2016

Machiavelli on Leadership: The First Principle of Power, Book 13 (part 2) of 2016



Paul Ryan is getting criticized by leaders of his own party and others for being a hypocrite, endorsing Donald Trump while at the same time saying he is a racist.

Whatever else Ryan may be, he is consistent in following the first and central rule in Machiavelli's The Prince: The leader must take power and keep power, without power he can do nothing.

Ryan made it very clear he is endorsing Trump because Trump will sign Ryan's economic agenda and Hillary Clinton would not.  Trump says he will appoint Conservative Supreme Court justices, Clinton will not.

In one odd potential twist on the outcome of the election, some potential scenarios indicate Ryan will be out of power if Trump is crushed in a landslide.  If Ryan is out of power and out of favor as a result of supporting a failed candidate, his economic agenda has no chance at all.  But if Trump wins and has a Republican House and Senate, Speaker Ryan will have the best chance to put the country on a Republican economic plan.

Machiavelli also says a Leader should do what is right when he can, but not when the right thing will cost him his hold on power.

I have a friend with a conscience who is on the leadership team of a large company.  He was reluctant to become a director, but flattered to be promoted. He finds some of his colleagues on the team really nasty people.  "What do you expect?" I asked. "They are climbing the ladder of power.  Why would you be surprised that they would be the most ruthless people in the company?"

The great thing about reading and re-reading Machiavelli is that when I watch the maneuvering of politicians, I have a rational framework to understand who stabs who in the back and why.

Also, reading Machiavelli is like a vaccine for some of the stupidest political ideas that never go away. Currently, there are millions of people who support Donald Trump of Bernie Sanders because they are outsiders.  It would be funny if it were not so pathetic.  The day after anyone is sworn into office they are not an outsider any more.  They are an INSIDER.  Then they will act to keep power.

The same with Term Limits.  No one who has power wants terms limits, at least not for themselves.