Machiavelli in the Modern Age

Nicolo Machiavelli, the world has not forgotten his name, mainly because they have yet to stop adhering to his principles of power management by those who head states. His works resonant with single purpose: power. Although we are all very enamored with the success of Barack Obama, I would like to use this paper as a means to show how he has and is demonstrating Machiavellian principles in this day and age.
One of the key elements of the Machiavellian body of thought is the use of whatever means at the leaders disposal to maintain order and reign. During the campaign, Obama made blatant statements that he would be removing from us the infamous and nefarious legacy left by his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. Under George Bush, the NSA and various other information and intelligence gathering departments used wire taps to listen in on the thoughts and plans of the American citizens. Obama, when given the opportunity to write away this wrong when not bringing up charges against the Bush administration, and allow the wire tapping to go unpunished, setting the executive office in a position higher than the principles he espoused during his campaign. This is a direct power play that is in line with Machiavelli’s teaching. A line out of the book “Prince” would serve us well here,”…he (the leader) must stick to the good so long as he can, but, being compelled by necessity, he must be ready to take the way of evil.”(pg. 63).
It is within Obama’s ability to be good as he sees fit with the closing of Guantamo Bay, at least in writing, he may be doing what appears good to the people, which was another tactic offered by our great political philosopher. However, we know that he did not enforce his will against a measure that would allow him to be good in deed, in action, but rather choose to act with evil, in the course of necessity, which allows belies his overall character portrayal that man is good. If by allowing the state to continue practicing wire tapping there is a thought that given the opportunity to do evil, man will, and must be watched with a close scrutiny, not only those who have a vested interest in avoiding wire taps, but the whole of the American people must be held under close surveillance. Another key element in the Machiavellian doctrine, by any means necessary, as he puts it,”…In the actions of men, when there is no court of appeal one judges by the results.”
Obama also uses the religion of his childhood to further his mission in the political realm as an instrument of power. We see him in the church after his inaugural ball, all in the high class pomp of our modern society. Why would an intellectual such as Obama, a man who leans heavily on his own speech writing abilities, who supports the expansion of government into the affairs of business, be so adamant about being seen in a church? Is he also using the Machiavellian principle of religion as a tool for power?
Furthermore, what makes a non-incumbent president, who has no prior experience of this degree want to go to basketball games during an economic crisis? He is making sure that his method and fortune are in harmony. He is casting himself in the best possible light, as one of the common people. By bestowing this bit of charm on himself, he works to assuage any doubt in the minds of his citizens that he is amoral. He has not the time or the chance to deal with an issue so far out of his control at the moment such as the economic crisis. In fact, he takes this even further and admits to not having said power over an insured loan company such as AIG, although he sought to punish them quickly, while at the same time doling out small portions of the budget to the citizens. Who said this, “Injuries should be performed all at once: so resentment does not develop, favors (deals, entertaining, advertising, grants, charitable works) should be bestowed little by little…”
I am not a republican or anywhere near the American right in thought, deed, or other, however, it is very critical that we understand the measures that our leaders take in order to issue out their respective offices. Not that I totally disagree with the practices spelled out in “The Prince”, I just make sure to keep a vigilant eye out one someone who is operating out of a vested interest to maintain their power, I’m sure as Machiavelli would write, those powers are doing the same to me.