Spring 2012 – Western Studies II
May 8, 2012
Is Obama a Prince?
In the year 1531 the famous political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli’s wrote a treatise entitled The Prince. It explains the proper guidelines for a prince to successfully lead a republic. Although this sixteenth century politician’s main purpose was to unite a separate Italy, his political theories have been taken into deep consideration and are commonly exercised in politics today. If Machiavelli were alive today he would agree that qualities of the current president Barack Obama coincide with his prince-like standards and make him the ideal candidate for the 2012 Presidential Election. Residing in the Florence Italy during the Renaissance, the founder of modern political science, Niccolo Machiavelli, was well known for his harsh political views. During this time period most European countries began to unite into powers while Italy was still comprised of city-states and controlled by dominant families. The motivation for Machiavelli’s famous literature came from the desire to fix the failed republic he was living in. His theories stemmed from politician’s military defenses he witnessed in Florence and other historical events. In his famous book, Machiavelli states his ideas on how a successful prince should act as the head of his people. He elaborates on the ideas of how a prince’s appearance should differ from reality, the proper tactics of war and peace, the appropriate way to gain favor of people and soldiers, drawing lines between liberality and meanness, and most importantly whether it is better to be loved or feared. Over the past four years the United States has witnessed how Obama has implemented his ideas of “change” on the United States; with deeper analysis of his “change” he has revealed similar qualities to Machiavelli’s ideal Prince.
In the beginning of Obama’s campaign for presidency in 2008 he made the world believe “Yes We Can” change for the better. He emphasized how he would end the war in Iraq, alter heath care, cut taxes, increase jobs, increase environmental standards and decrease oil prices. Obama seemed to be virtuous man; yet after years in office he seemed to have fooled his voters. Today our oil prices are higher than ever, the “war is over” in the Middle East, yet we have sent more troops overseas, and currently our health care system is functioning in a semi communist state. All of the promises and standards once set by Obama were optimistic but seemingly unattainable. Although Obama’s original ideas for the United States have not gone according to plan, from the end of his campaign through the first year of his presidency Obama was an aggressive democrat. The strong start to his four-year term coincides with Machiavelli’s ideas in chapter eighteen titled, “In What Mode Faith Should Be Kept By Princes”. Along with Machiavelli’s belief that all men have hidden motives and characteristics, he believes there is a beast within every man that should be used properly; it should share qualities of a fox and a lion. He states, “…one needs to be a fox to recognize snares and a lion to frighten the wolves” with these characteristics one may be ready for any type of enemy. After being sworn in on January 20, 2009, Obama quickly revealed a lion by implementing drastic changes to the government. Within hours of being president, he halted the operations within Guantanamo Bay Prison; two days into his presidency he sent a message to the world by stating he wanted the prison to be non operational in 120 days while also shutting down CIA’s Ghost Prison. This quickly brought attention to Obama’s claims of reform and succeeded emphasizing his courage while scaring away the wolves. For the remainder of 2009, he lived up to the numerous claims he made while running for president; he succeeded at passing laws concerning emission levels and interrogation while also passing bills regarding budgets,...
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