Tag Archive: Niccolo Machiavelli

With all due respect to the memory of LBJ and his colorful comment about FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, American politics has been turned on its head.

Way back in the 20th Century, the conventional wisdom was to take the time to provide quality TLC to your electoral base, reach out to independents, and be extremely anal about your political enemies.

The rationale: Your friends can change, but your enemies will always be there for you.

Some contend the ageless adage: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” … is attributable to Chinese militarist Sun Tzu or maybe Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli or even Al Pacino in Godfather II.

We may never know for sure.

The Economist’s Lexington this week examined the prospects of the “Never Trump” movement within the Republican Party to possibly mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump when the 2020 presidential cycle immediately commences after the November midterms.

Considering that Trump’s approval rating is 90 percent among Republicans (i.e., two Supreme Court picks, tax reform, regulatory relief, strong economy, no wars), the chances of beating him right now in the GOP primary appear to be slim and none with Slim being out-of-town.

Ready for more GOP primary punishment, Ohio Governor John Kasich? Been there, done that?

Almost DailyBrett also is mindful of the time period between now and 2020 is a political lifetime.

What Do Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama All Have in Common?

Even though the philosophical gap among these former presidents is wide, they all enjoyed not having primary opposition when they successfully ran for their respective second terms in 1996, 2004 and 2012 respectively. They also focused their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts on enticing millions of their close friends to vote on election day.

The aforementioned Lyndon Johnson (1968, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy) along with Jimmy Carter (1980, Ted Kennedy) and George H.W. Bush (Pat Buchanan) all faced credible primary opponents. They all failed re-election, big time.

Trump’s enemies are not going anywhere. They will intensify their rhetoric, ferocity and protests (if that is even possible) between now and November 2020.

The question remains: What will Trump’s friends do in two-years-time?

Donald Trump – whether you adore him or detest him (there is literally no middle ground) – he knows how to play the “us” vs. “them” game better than ever before.

The editorials and op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post and the commentary from the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC are consumed by people who didn’t vote for Trump before, and will never vote for him in two years or ever.

As former coach Dennis Green once said: “They are who we thought they were.”

Barring the political fantasy of the 12th Amendment (e.g. Electoral College) being overturned, Trump needs to focus on keeping the red states, red or … keeping his friends, his friends.

One of the ways, he is doing exactly that is by fulfilling promises (e.g., steel and aluminum tariffs for Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania).

Another is the almost by the minute denigration emanating from the political class, questioning the cerebral capabilities of those in the fly-over states that provided Trump with his Electoral College majority.

When all is said (there will be a ton of pontificating and bloviating between now and the next 27 months), the number that still matters is 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Trump delivered a relatively comfortable 2016 winning margin of 36 electoral votes above the 270 threshold. And if he holds his 30 states. Game, set and match.

The eventual Democratic nominee must peel away at least two red states. A good place to start would be Florida and its 29 electoral votes.

For Trump, it’s in his best political interest to keep close his friends in Florida.

Maybe even invite them over for some fun in the sun at Mar-a-Lago.









 “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” – Niccolo’ Machiavelli, “The Prince.”

The choice of topic for one of my classmate’s Qualitative Research paper startled me.

She was writing about the growing “unfriending” trend among the more than 500 million Facebook subscribers. For example, if someone unfriended me, I would  have 161 friends instead of  my modest list of 162 friends.

Do you really think someone would want to unfriend little ole me? Alas, it is true…and sorry to say, maybe for you too. unfriend

Guess that doesn’t sound like a big deal worth losing sleep over. Considering that it is human nature to burn up more brain cells on negative than positive vibrations, then you have to conclude that people actually put more time and thought into an unfriending action than a friending decision. The fact that what is normally a noun, “Friend,” or an adverb, “friendly” has become a verb, to “friend” or now to “unfriend,” is a subject for another blog post at another time.

In a way all of this makes sense as companies for the longest time spent more time firing someone than they actually did hiring the person in the first place. They are starting to get smarter in this regard because it costs upwards to $60,000 in recruiting and training costs to replace someone and even more when you take into account lost productivity and the impact on the morale other employees in terms of picking up the slack.

Is “unfriending” a direct outgrowth of our almost automatic decisions to respond positively to a “friend” request?

Do we really not want to insult someone by merely ignoring their friend request, even though that is perfectly appropriate for someone we don’t know or don’t want to know?

And if you accept, do you want them to know what you normally reserve for people who are generally your friends? Will this prompt you to be a little more careful about what you post or do you fire away anyway?

Keep in mind that digital is eternal. Yes there are privacy settings on Facebook, but corporate and governmental “firewalls” are hacked into almost every day. Your precious photos intended for friends only of you in a drunken or stoned stupor or exhibiting normally private parts of your anatomy may someday find its way into the wrong hands, much to your permanent embarrassment.

One has to contemplate how many millions of dollars in endorsements that Michael Phelps’ digital bong pipe photo cost the Olympic swimmer even though he has 16 medals in a personal display case?

In theory, if we are smarter about friending then we should not have to do as much unfriending. Right? But doesn’t it just make sense to periodically purge your friends list? Is someone who is an acquaintance today really going to be a friend tomorrow? And if you want to take this step, Facebook is making it so easy to do, even wirelessly from your cell phone or PDA. unfriend1

And if you are a tad paranoid, and just have to find out who had the audacity to actually “unfriend” you, well there is software that works on at least four browsers to tell you who is the culprit.

And if you are personally unfriended, is this a personal insult? Should you call them out for taking this step?

If a member of the opposite gender (or your own gender, if you are so inclined) in which you were having a romantic involvement, says, “Let’s just be friends (kiss of death),” does that mean you should continue to “friend” them on Facebook? Or is it time to “unfriend” them?

And what if he or she follow their suggestion of “just being friends” by “unfriending” you on Facebook? Is this consistent or inconsistent with their wishes?

Considering that I am not an expert on affairs of the heart or a psychologist, I guess I will have fall back on the famous Barack Obama quote:

(This question is) “Above my pay grade.”






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