In the novel The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, Machiavelli uses straightforwardness to foster a “how-to” guide on what princes need to do to retain their power. Although it was 50 decades ago, it remains relevant to today’s culture and politics as elected officials continue to chase the support of the people. The people haven’t changed, what Machiavelli himself said long ago continues to be applicable, “…the nature of the people is variable.” (6,6,52).
Machiavelli carried an opposing view of human nature, where the people’s purpose on this world was to be in the service of the powerful who in return balanced violence and goodness. Machiavelli addresses how the people are easily influenced, but emphasizes how necessary it is to confront their concerns and aspirations. “…a powerful and courageous prince will overcome all such difficulties by giving at one-time hope to his subjects that the evil will not be for long, at another time fear of the cruelty of the enemy, then preserving himself adroitly from those subjects who seem to him to be too bold.” (10,3,83). Machiavelli did not promote mistreatment of the people (who were very self-absorbed); however, he did not oppose any doings from which benefits could be gained from.
In order to keep that power, according to Machiavelli, a prince needs to possess the two natures of a fox and a lion. This metaphor means that a prince should mimic the attitude of scheming fox, but also the might of a lion. “A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.” (18,2,125). The lion can compel its “prey” to obey, and the fox will sneakily avoid being despised. A fox is capable of detecting traps and the lion can scare off the enemies, making it a perfect combination.
Something Machiavelli mentioned was the fact that a prince should give the impression of being “…merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright…” (18,7,127), but “…you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.” (18,7,127). A politician’s campaign, in modern society, consists of deceiving the people and unfortunately it works well. In 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected, many of his voters thought he was not a bad guy, that all he wanted was to protect America. Yet, in recent months those same voters have been shocked at his actions, clearly, some didn’t see what others did. All of Trump’s actions have been horrendous, hence so many dislike him very much, something Machiavelli said would happen. “But, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in difficult times.” (9,5,78). President Trump is not helping the people, in fact, Trump is only adding fuel to the fire.
To conclude, Machiavelli promotes ways in which to keep the state guarded as well as the princes’ position, with a clear distinction between politics and ethics. Ruling does not seem easy, Machiavelli appears to know exactly what to do to change that.