Watching the Borgias series, I’m fascinated by the occasional appearance of Niccolo Machiavelli. This Florentine philosopher wrote “The Prince” in the early 1500’s (1517?). This book that discussed the acquisition and use of power was mandatory reading for history majors such as I. Below, I apply a snippet of The Prince to Donald Trump’s courting of Mitt Romney and, surprisingly, Albert Gore, Jr., who held political office under Clinton.
Here’s the passage:
From Machiavelli’s The Prince, Book XX: Circa 1517
The prince will always be to win over to himself with the greatest ease those men who in the beginning of a principality had been enemies, and who are of such quality that to maintain themselves they need somewhere to lean. They are all the more forced to serve him faithfully as they know it is more necessary for them to cancel out with deeds the sinister opinion one has taken of them. And so the prince always extracts more use from them than from those who, while serving him with too much security, neglect his affairs.
And since the matter requires it, I do not want to leave out a reminder to princes who have newly taken a state through internal support within it, that they consider well what cause moved those who supported them to support them. If it is not natural affection toward them but only because those supporters were not content with that state, he will be able to keep them his friends with trouble and great difficulty, because it is impossible for him to make them content. And while reviewing well the cause of this, with examples drawn from ancient and modern things, he will see that it is much easier to gain as friends to himself men who were content with the state beforehand, and therefore were his enemies, than those who, because they were not content with it. became friends and gave him support in seizing it.