A Dictatorship DIY
Totalitarianism for Dummies
To initiate an American dictatorship, first you need a candidate to run for president who has popular appeal and name recognition. Preferably not a career politician but one who can claim outsider status and has no record to defend. An ambitious fresh face. A charismatic media personality would be perfect. He or she would require private funding as no established political party would readily fund and endorse an untested, inexperienced, loose cannon of a candidate.
His automatic name recognition will quickly propel him into a competitive position among the electorate. He will appear a firm, strident candidate. He will talk in platitudes with few details of sweeping changes that will restore the country to glory, grace and military and economic dominance. He might argue that many of the country’s problems are the result of outside nations or a social minority distinguished by nationality, religion or race. Though his popular solutions will not stand the test of considered viability, these challenges will be generally ignored by his followers who are allured by his simplistic but inspiring rhetoric.
If he gains a dedicated following and senses that he is within grasp of winning the election but inhibited by a single person or small group of people, he will be willing to use unscrupulous means to eliminate this obstacle. Besides vindictive rhetoric, these methods will include indefensible accusations, falsifying facts, planting false documents, or even mysterious assassinations. Though he would be a prime suspect for these acts, due to the obvious benefit to his aspirations, none of this will be directly traceable back to him. Reasonable doubt, in the absence of hard evidence, and the presumption of innocence will be favorable to his argument.
Once in a position of influence he will don the mantle as the representative of traditional values that had made this country great. This will also be an effective shield from any criticism as he becomes the self-appointed defender of the nation. Thus any critics of his will automatically become the forces allied against this nation.
Once achieving legal political power, he will become the personification of the nation. The first thing on his agenda will be the suppression of the independent media. Alliances with friendly media outlets along with the intimidation of opposition editors and media moguls will be essential. Threats of financial or personal ruin, litigation, incrimination or even physical threats will corral them into submission. Those that resist will be persecuted, always in the interest of the security of the country. As the figurehead of the country, criticism or threats against his actions will naturally be construed to be a criticism of the nation itself or an attack on patriotism, freedom and liberty.
Next he will begin to secretly change the leadership of the military, replacing any who question his authority with opportunistic sycophants and toadies. Trusted family and friends will be appointed to the most powerful positions in government. These individuals will be rewarded with uncommon power. He might start a separate elite force or expand the role of an existing force like the Secret Service to serve his extralegal purposes. Criticism of these institutionalized changes that consolidate power structures will be rationalized as necessary responses to real external threats. He may build personal fortresses in secret locations for his isolation and paranoia will increase with the unrest and criticism he will be receiving for these actions. Former associates will be routinely dismissed and discredited. Once power is consolidated, opposition leaders will be summarily arrested and disappeared.
As a result of this growing aggression and disregard for the law there will be an upwelling of criticism and demonstrations which the president and his supporters will infer to be traitorous attacks upon the country. The growing tide of criticism of his actions will be displayed as irrefutable evidence of attacks upon the nation by forces of evil. Opponents and critics will be portrayed as villains and traitors. He will threaten them, make charges against them and arrest the most prominent of them. Examples will be made. Their resistance and prosecution will be put on display as evidence of their guilt and association with this dangerous conspiracy. Surveillance will be easy for this government as the machinery is already conveniently in place to access and monitor the ubiquitous infrastructure of all digital communication. It will require only a tweaking to monitor conversations and expose the identities of political opponents.
Ultimately future elections will be postponed indefinitely due to the dangerous internal conflicts and the likely violence at the polls. The president may declare himself ‘president for life’ in the interest of social stability. Revolution or assassination will appear to be the only way to end this regime. Opponents will be labeled subversives and revolutionaries and will be listed and subjected to incarceration, public humiliation and disappearance. The stable society would disintegrate into violent, competing camps. A protracted and bloody conflict would likely result with a breakdown of civil society and economic upheaval and in the worst case, a modern dark age. Civil wars easily devolve into mass executions, torture, human displacement and unresolved misery. Such conflicts will have severe multi-generational consequences and may make it impossible to return to the previous healthy, peaceful and productive society.
Once begun, these secretive and incremental changes to government will make it difficult to stop the inevitable spiral to dictatorship. Destruction of independent media and a strict intolerance for the rights of the press and individual dissent is essential to perpetuating the autocracy. But beware of diligent citizens watching for and noticing the early signs of such power obsession.
Though their calls for correctness are merely the pitiful wails of frustrated losers, the future dictator must beware of those who watch and reason and try to speak clearly. They have no respect for those of us who measure success by the sum of our accumulated property, wealth or power over people. These philosophical high brows smugly prefer candidates exhibiting principled democratic leadership.
They distrust those whose of us whose unprincipled pursuit of power and personal wealth dominates our history and believe us to be precursors of a potentate. They are critical and suspicious of anyone who stealthily moves into high political office by gaming the populace without establishing the trust and cooperation of their elected peers and predecessors. But once our legal authority is established, it will be very difficult for them to wrestle away the means to dictatorship. This is not a sporting event. There is only one path to our success. We must pursue our goal of unlimited power with a monomaniacal diligence forgoing any moral integrity, competitive altruism or principled democratic precepts. The day is ours if we ruthlessly seize it.
Please consider purchasing our follow up publication Machiavelli for Dummies.