Machiavellian Politicians

Machiavellian Politicians
Image by Donkey Hotey via Flickr Creative Commons

By Jonathan Luevanos

The political philosophy of liberalism was introduced in the Western world through rational ideas of freedom and equality. Liberals believe that individuals are endowed with natural or inalienable rights which must be protected. Today liberal politicians use ideas of freedom and equality to shape Democratic and Republican institutions.

In The Prince (1532), one of the pioneering works in Western political theory, Niccolo Machiavelli examines the role of political power in shaping individuals and the activity of governments. Machiavelli argues from a realist approach that politicians must deceive people and act against humanity in order to gain and maintain power. Machiavelli’s approach differs from the political philosophy of liberalism, but it is comparable to the activity of both liberal and conservative politicians.

In chapter 18 of The Prince, Machiavelli claims that “there are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second.” The goal of gaining and maintaining power justifies the use of any means to gain and maintain it.

Machiavelli argues that a politician must “imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must, therefore, be a fox to recognize snares, and a lion to frighten wolves.” According to Machiavelli, “those that have been best able to imitate the fox have succeeded best.”

According to Machiavelli, “it is necessary to be able to disguise this character well, and to be a great feigner and dissembler; and men are so simple and so ready to obey present necessities, that one who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”

Machiavelli’s definition of the political subject is ironically relevant to the historical activity of liberal and conservative politicians. The civil rights upheavals in the 1960s caused White liberal politicians to reform their political strategies in order to influence and control the votes of the public. White liberal reformers posed as friends of people of color and exploited their political energies to gain and maintain power in the political battle against conservatives.

In a speech given in the United States in 1963, Malcolm X said that the only difference between a White conservative and a White liberal is that the liberal is “more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the White liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor.”

According to Malcolm X, “White conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them.” For Malcolm X, “White liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The White liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the ‘smiling’ fox.”

The political climate that consumed the turbulent sixties, as well as Niccolo Machiavelli’s definition of the political subject, are strongly relevant in 2016. Today politicians pose as friends of the public in order to control their votes and gain power.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential election. Her political career is centered on popular liberal ideas of freedom and equality. Clinton considers herself to be a progressive politician who creates positive change in people’s lives. Clinton has exceptionally established herself as someone who cares about the lives of women, people of color and marginalized groups such as immigrants and LGBTQ individuals.

Clinton’s Democratic platform has pushed for reforms such as ending mandatory sentencing for nonviolent criminal convictions. While it may be true that Clinton cares for marginalized people, her relationship with the public is more complex than perceived.

Many social inequalities that exist throughout the country today were caused by policies that Hillary Clinton strongly supported in the 1990s. For example, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed in 1994 by the Clinton administration. It lay stricter punitive sentences for individuals convicted of violent crimes. The crime bill led to prison overcrowding and expanded the prison industrial complex. In 1996, the Clinton administration passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which was a major welfare reform that detrimentally affected women and children and left people in poverty.

Her choice of policies in the past show that Hillary Clinton has the predisposition to favor punitive measures over social welfare to solve the problems of society. No politician has ever more been able to give assurances, or affirms things with stronger oaths, and no one observes them less.

Hillary Clinton ironically supports the use of military intervention to solve social problems. In 2002, Clinton’s Senate vote gave former President George W. Bush the authority to declare war on Iraq. Clinton currently supports the use of violence against the people of the Middle East. If Clinton is elected President, she will make policies that continue to terrorize and mass-murder the people of the Middle East. She will most likely exceed President Barack Obama’s targeted kill list, which has already exceeded former President George W. Bush’s kill list.

It is important then to be conscious of the deceptive and shrewd tendencies of politicians. One must not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election because they are politicians who are capable of controlling and containing the struggles of people and their ability to revolt.


Jonathan is a writer from Fresno, California. Contact him at


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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