The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century

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9781580630795: The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century
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Drawing on his political experience with both major parties over the last thirty years, the author suggests that Machiavelli's concept of idealism, if pragmatized, is the perfect new governmental paradigm

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Review:

It is beyond irony for Dick Morris, the man who has done as much as anyone in the 1990s to increase cynicism in the political process and encourage politicians to play to our worst fears and instincts, to turn around and say that politicians should be more idealistic because that's what people want. Yet that's the premise of The New Prince. Morris--who rose to national prominence by telling Bill Clinton what to say to appease Democratic liberals as he shifted party policy to the right--argues that the new pragmatism in politics is "to stay positive; to focus on the issues; to rise above party; and to lead through ideas.... Our candidates and office holders need to change their tactics, their focus, and their strategies--not in the interest of better government, but in order to succeed in their chosen line of work." Fewer people are voting, he says, but the ones who do are better informed, so message is more important than money now. Although he argued for early negative ads in the 1996 presidential campaign, Morris has seen the light, saying that "voters have moved beyond" negative ads. He also thinks Americans are sick of scandal, which is why the Republicans couldn't impeach Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Arguing that politicians have to constantly take the public temperature to govern effectively--"Each day is election day in modern America"--Morris justifies the constant polling that he has used as a political tactic throughout his career. So what is leadership? Morris defines it as maintaining "sufficient forward momentum to control events and steer public policy without losing public support."

Essentially, The New Prince is a handbook for politicians who want to get themselves elected, whether it be to the school board or the presidency, and on that level it works. But as a sage commentary on the state of politics at the end of the 20th century... heaven help us. --Linda Killian

About the Author:

Dick Morris, who had a twenty-year relationship with President Bill Clinton, is currently under contract with FOX television as a political commentator and is often seen on other national news outlets.

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