If you were an American president, duly elected in a constitutional republic, but had dreams of dictatorship — how would you do it?
First, you have to solidify your base. You have to make sure you have a core group of followers who will follow you to the ends of the earth. They will be your sword and your shield. Nothing else matters; without them you are nothing. Say anything you need to say to get them fired up. Promise them everything they want. Give them everything you can. Appeal to their deepest insecurities and show them their darkest fears. You can fix that, if only they swear fealty. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, those people are locked in. They’re your army. If someone goes after you, they’ll protect you. They’ll attack your enemies, fight your battles, consequences be damned. They need someone to believe in, you need someone expendable to keep you afloat — because you’re headed for the deep end. It doesn’t matter how big or small your base is, as long as they’re unified and fierce. Play dirty. Let everyone else know where the battle lines are and DON’T. GIVE. AN. INCH.
So you’re president and you have the best base of supporters around. Nobody else likes you much, but they don’t matter. You’re with us or against us. But let’s be honest, there are more of them and they control the media. You need to get everyone off your back because they’re coming for you hard. You have to start with the media. Let them attack you, lull them into your trap. Keep them engaged and enraged, say everything they want to hear. Anything you say, they’ll report. The more outrageous the better. Say all the things they fear you’ll say. Every chance you get, tell them you hate them; they’ll report it and they’ll come after you harder. Before long, you’re enemy #1 and they’ll stop at nothing to bring you down. Boom, you’ve got them. You’re the victim. Who are they to go after the boss? The King? They’re the enemy, that’s who. The enemy of YOUR people. And when the enemy is talking, they need not be believed because after all, they’re just there to take you down. Everything you say wastes their column inches and their precious air time. As long as you’re the only story, you can do whatever you want. They’re distracted. They’re vulnerable. And they keep coming while the opposition keeps watching. They keep coming while you watch them fall over each other. Eventually they’re tired. It’s all about you every day. As it should be. They want desperately for you to care about them, for you to tell them they’re right. To say you’re wrong and let them win. Of course you never will, so now you have them right where you want them. They’re exhausted, they’re hopeless, and every day they lose their will to fight. Bugs on your windshield.
The masses? Neutralized. Now you’re in the arena. Things are way too complicated here. Time to simplify. There are three branches, gotta take them down one by one.
First up, Legislative. You’ve got some people in the House who make great attack dogs. They’re safe in their districts, so they can say or do anything. They’re YOUR people, so release the hounds. The Senate is trickier, these are a bunch of stodgy old guys. They’re set in their ways and they don’t like you. But they know how to wheel and deal. They know that you’re the man of the hour and you can help each other. What’s more, a few of them are the vanquished: you beat them in the primaries and they scurried away home. Kick them while they’re down. Tell the world how much they lie, how weak they are. The more often you say it, the more people will believe it’s true — but it doesn’t need to be. Send out the base and let them know who controls their fortunes. Their fundraising. Their future. They’ll roll over. Vanquished foes make the best foot soldiers. The examples you make will ensure that the rest of them will fall in line. But you still need to give them what they want. For some stupid reason, that’s judges. Turns out you have total control over that. Give them judges, who cares? The best, the worst, whatever they want. Send projects and money to their districts. Put them in the limelight and let them know who put them there. Make them fear the sword of Damocles that floats above their heads, their careers, their wallets, their power. They’ll continue to sink until they’re neck-deep. You don’t need them to support you, only to shut up and not oppose you. And the beautiful thing about this constitutional republic is that if you have one house of Congress on lockdown, you’re protected. They can’t touch you.
Except from the judicial branch. These guys are the real deal. They can’t be bought, but everybody has their weaknesses. They have to do things properly, deliberatively, and that takes time. This is the only way they can get you, but you’re faster and these idiots take forever to do anything. By the time you’ve appealed everything into oblivion, you’ll be 25 offenses down the road and it won’t matter. Keep the docket full, send out the attorneys. Weigh them down and wait them out.
That’s two branches neutralized. Now the hard part. The ones who are closest always know too much. Need to root out the spies. Have to make sure nobody is listening. There are too many people here from the last guy, they need to be purged. Traitors, the lot of them. When you spy on the king, you pay the price. You not only ARE the law, but you HAVE the law — send out your Attorney General to enforce everything he can. The deep state won’t sink itself. Next up, inspectors general. Narcs. It’s their JOB to bring you down. That doesn’t make any sense at all, how can these people exist in YOUR branch? Not fair — in order to move around and consolidate power, you need nobody watching. As it turns out, they’re not even protected, you can just fire them. The only people who can do anything about it are already in your pocket. So now that they’re gone, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Time to go over the loopholes. NORMS, as the enemy media calls them. Is it really true that you’re just expected to do all this touchy feely shit, but aren’t actually required to do it? That’s the end of that. People need to know you mean business. You do things your way. So forget about all those norms, they’re history. It’s hilarious that people just EXPECT you to do things and play by the rules. Losers. Next, you also need to make sure your lieutenants are YOUR people, not those conniving Senators’ people. Keep rotating the loyal ones through temporary jobs and they won’t call you out or keep up.
So now you’ve got your army in the streets. You’ve cleansed the opposition of your House. The old farts in Congress are too scared of you to do anything but shut up and save themselves. You can do what you want. And you want power. How do you get it? Chaos. Time to get to work. Churn up the classics, race and wealth. The wealthy white guys always swoop in to the rescue when the criminals play their part. Put a magnifying glass on the criminals, you’ll make more of them. Make martyrs of cops, you’ll make more criminals. Stand idly by and relish in the destruction until they come BEGGING you to fix it. Of course you will, but you’ll fix it YOUR way with YOUR people and the only parlay is surrender. Finally you get to go in and round them up — black bags, black hoods, unmarked vans. They will tremble at your might. The press is already overloaded, the public is exhausted, and each day your base gets more and more militant. They’ll join the fighting soon enough. Keep reminding everybody the military is on standby, ready to go if they NEED you. Ready to KEEP THE PEACE. All you have to do is keep putting out the little flames — most of them. Can’t fix it too quickly. Before long it will boil over — the locals don’t have the resources you do. Riots in the streets that ONLY YOU CAN FIX because you’re the big man on the block.
The media is exasperated, and nobody will believe a word they say anyways — they’ll believe what YOU say, if you say it enough. The public has given up — they’re in over their head and they know it. Congress is looking the other way and there’s nothing the courts can do in the moment — deal with them a few years from now when it will be too late. Nobody is helping and the country is in chaos. The people who are supposed to keep the peace are being revolted against. You get to be the hero now.
The dry run in the capitol (friendly legal territory) went fine and people know you’re not messing around. Time to bring in the big boy toys. Tanks in every major city because we need to keep the peace. They’ll welcome you as liberators from their crime-infested hellholes. You’ll make the bad guys disappear — people won’t care where they went, just that they’re gone.
Now that you’ve restored order, you need to keep it — especially during this VERY IMPORTANT election. Post the police and the military at polling points to make sure there are no shenanigans. As long as they’re watching over, everything will be…safe. Finally, your guy in the Post Office assures you that most of those old-people ballots aren’t getting counted. That covers the margins you need.
You’re re-“elected” and all the guardrails are gone. You control the military and the mandate. It’s time for a new way of thinking, lest we return to the dark times of crime and burning buildings. You’ve proven that you can get things done, time to stop wasting time with laws and constitutions. You call a constitutional convention and your people are well in line to do your bidding.
How shall you re-write this Constitution?