Machiavelli’s Job Application

Trump and Machiavelli: A match made in heaven

Dear Mr. Trump,

Oil painting of Niccolò Machiavelli by Cristofano dell’Altissimo.

I was delighted to receive your Tweet! To answer your questions, I have taken the liberty of copying passages from my book, The Prince, (2010 Penguin/Library journals LLC) that I believe will also act, if you please, as my resume.

Certainly, it is accurate to de-emphasize democracy in your speeches. The United States was formed as a Republic. I have written extensively on Republics. For example, “Republics…have more life in them, more hatred and a greater thirst for revenge. Their memory of old freedoms lingers on and won’t let them rest. In these cases, your only options are to reduce the place to rubble or go and live there yourself.” Reassure Melania that the time of rubble is near.

On your new power: “…since you can’t go from being an ordinary citizen to a ruler without either talent or favorable circumstances, we must suppose that one or the other of these factors will be offsetting, at least in part, a great many difficulties. That said, those who haven’t relied too much on lucky circumstances have lasted longer.” Thumbs up to you!

On your question about your Cabinet picks, I entirely agree with you: “…is the leader introducing the changes relying on his own resources, or does he depend on other people’s support; that is, does he have to beg help to achieve his goals, or can he impose them? If he’s begging help, he’s bound to fail and will get nowhere…” A caution, however: “…if he’s too trusting, he’ll get careless, and if he trusts no one, he’ll make himself unbearable.” Mission Unbearable accomplished!

Yes, you’ve done brilliant work with your tweets, but I must caution you: “It’s easy to convince people of something, but hard to keep them convinced. So, when they stop believing in you, you must be in a position to force them to believe.” Keep your friends close and the NRA closer.

Yes, your win was, as you say, “tremendous” and “unheard of,” yet keep in mind: “A private citizen who becomes a ruler out of sheer good luck needn’t make much effort to take his state but will have to sweat if he is to hold on to it. He has no trouble climbing on to his pedestal since he is lifted there; but as soon as he is up on top, there will be any number of problems.” Your vigilance is not misplaced: “Like anything that appears suddenly and grows fast, regimes that come out of nothing inevitably have shallow roots and will tend to crash in the first storm.” Keep out of hurricanes!

My advice regarding Rudy Giuliani: “Anyone who thinks that an important man will forget past grievances just because he’s received some new promotion must think again.” Time to cut rope.

No, I don’t believe that your actions need reigning in. “…when you take hold of a state, you must assess how much violence and cruelty will be necessary… When you’ve stopped using violence, your subjects will be reassured, and you can then win them over with generosity.” However, there is a balance to maintain: “…a ruler can’t be generous and show it without putting himself at risk. If he’s sensible, he won’t mind getting a reputation for meanness.” “Above all else, a king must guard against being despised and hated. Generosity leads to both. It’s far more sensible to keep a reputation for meanness, which carries a stigma but doesn’t lose people’s hatred.” From your television appearances, your praise of the alt-right and ridicule of the “less fortunate,” I’d say your instinct for meanness is right on. Revel in their hatred!

Here’s a maxim: “For a ruler already in power, generosity is dangerous; for the man seeking power it is essential.”  So, yes, generosity is no longer required.   What a relief, right!


I realize it was a tough choice: “…you need the support of either the common people or the wealthy families, the nobles. In every city one finds these two conflicting political positions: there are the common people who are eager not to be ordered around and oppressed by the noble families, and there are the nobles who are eager to oppress the common people and order them around. These opposing impulses will lead to one of three different situations: a monarchy, a republic, or anarchy.” Your choice of anarchy was brilliant.

You choose wisely in selecting your powerbase: “The king who comes to power with the help of the rich nobles will have more trouble keeping it than the king who gets there with the support of the people…The nobles are smarter, they see further ahead, they always move early enough to save their skins, ingratiating themselves with whoever they think will turn out the winner.” Keep rotating the nobles in and out of your Cabinet and let them spin.

I must respectfully disagree with you on your call to arms: “Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous…mercenaries are ambitious, undisciplined, disloyal and they quarrel among themselves” Yes, “…one of the many negative consequences of not having an army is that people will find you pathetic, and that is a stigma a ruler must guard against.” But I advise against importing the Red Army. Stay with the local “well-regulated” militia.

I will close with these quotes: “…is it better to be loved rather than feared, or vice versa?

The answer is that one would prefer to be both but, since they don’t go together easily, if you have to choose, it’s much safer to be feared than loved.” And, “Fear means fear of punishment, and that’s something people never forget.” Keep the “You’re fired!” attitude.

Ah, and one teeny-weeny reminder: “A ruler won’t be hated if he keeps his hands off his subjects’ property and their women.”

In summary: Keep the fear burning, the hatred simmering, and the chaos stirring.


Regards to my former student, Steve Bannon.


Your humble servant,
Niccolò Machiavelli
Florence, Italy (but available to relocate)

Tom Ballard
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