The coming American elections are an inspiration not only for journalists and power brokers, but also for political scientists. Maurizio Viroli is an Italian expert in Machiavelli whose writings are given a different spin than the usual focus on the leader: the electing citizens. Not extremely appreciated in the US and rarely associated with open and transparent democracy, the author of the Prince is now given an enriched interpretation.
One of the most important assets of a real leader is to be voted by citizens involved in the everyday life of the Republic. Peacefully, they have to use the public meetings, rallies and debates for expressing their opinions about government and leadership in general and getting to know the candidates. With the democratic republic preferable to any other forms of government, Machiavelli's advice to the voters in Viroli's interpretation is to 'judge by the hands, not by the eyes'. In other words, to avoid evaluating politicians by their appearance. Although, we have to remember that one of the features outlined by the author of the Prince is eloquence but in this interpretation it is the role of the citizens to put facts and words together. 'Machiavelli's advice to citizens' is to choose that leader able to understand when the common good prevails over particular interests and able to adapt its politics to the changing context. Equally, they have to be careful with candidates that promise to achieve bold gigantesque political projects. Also, first priority of a president of a democracy is to promote peace and avoid war. Separation between state and church and religion in general is recommended for a democracy, as well as the need to have leaders knowledgeable about history and admiring 'the right people'. In the opinion of the author: 'The USA is the most successful example of a republic that has a strong civic religion, is acceptably tolerant and has been able to preserve a good separation between state and church'. Citizens should intend to limit the power of their leaders and avoid keeping them in power because power is a source of corruption and Machiavelli is not the only one to have outlined that.
An important asset of the book is also relying on various examples from the US history, offering a practical perspective on the political science texts.
The book is expected to be published the 26th of April.
Disclaimer: I was offered the book by the publisher via NetGalley.com, but the opinions are, as usual, my own