So, let’s assume you’re a political leader in a position of power and you want to move toward a totalitarian regime to secure that power beyond the bounds of the law. What do you do?
First and foremost you’ve got to be smooth, capable of communicating your message effectively. You’ve got to be unique enough to convince people to agree with you, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. You need disagreement to be viewed as prejudice or bias. You need great propagandists!
You’ve got to get folks accustomed to a ‘new normal’. The new normal will be more about what you don’t do as opposed to what you do. The economy is your focus for the new normal because the economy touches everyone, everywhere with few exceptions. Don’t solve unemployment, don’t insist on personal responsibility, don’t open up new energy resources, print lots of money, spend lots of money, don’t repatriate oversees profits and whatever you do, never admit failure; always double down! When you double down it makes the initial move look less onerous by comparison. Make sure lots of the money goes to people and organizations that are dependent on more of the same and therefore dependant on you.
You’ve got to erode ideas and institutions that stand in the way of your totalitarian instincts. You must not accept traditions and you must move the country socially as well as economically and politically. Do not be afraid to erode the Constitution if it is in your way. This tactic requires behaviors such as: public castigation of the Supreme Court, Political leaders, opposition media outlets, corporations, insurance companies, Wall Street, doctors, hospitals, energy producers, opposing political organizations, etc. The Bully Pulpit, for you, is the high ground for staging the attacks that need to occur!
You need to be able to attack based on your unique aspects and cast the opposition is a light whereby it’s they’re credibility that comes into question, not yours. In other words you need the capital to demonize opposition not for what they say but for your definition of their motivations and values. You also need to deliver those demonizing messages constantly by word and deed. In short you need enemies, real, created or imagined to serve as the foil for your arguments; straw men!
You create situations where those of us here amongst the great unwashed, ‘feel’ more than they ‘think’! You must have buzz words that deliver a message generally acceptable to the public but easily translatable ‘code’ for the true believers. Fairness, main street, fair share, equal shot!
You must generate fear as a dominant overall context. Fear of losing what you have; medical care, jobs or financial security; it’s the subtext for demonization.
You need a number of things from the media. You need them to be fundamentally compliant. In the second case you need some members of the media to essentially parrot what you have to say providing a credibility ‘cover’ and the ability to ‘penetrate’ the population with your message. You need them to stay off the investigative side of things as much as possible. You need them to be part of the attack force you’ve deployed. And when you sense they’re on the verge of getting a little too frisky you’ve got to have a way to calm them down either by way of access to sooth their egos or by way of intimidation.
You need to create a nearly cultish culture of secrecy and dissembling, you need people in key management roles to carry that water for you, lie for you, dissemble for you and surround what truth there may be with assurances that criticism is ‘just political’. You need to enhance the view that what you do is not ‘political’ but what everyone else does is! Above the fray!
You need the ability to grant security forces the empowerments necessary to ‘go after’ political enemies. Going after your enemies demands the availability of information; therefore you must gather that information or reorganize what you’ve got. You must disseminate that information to trusted lieutenants who ‘know’ what to do with it. Your critical resources for this must be agencies with broad scope in terms of interacting with the population, for instance the bureaucracy tied to the taxing authority. You must also look to your intelligence community to provide you with information related to speech and activities. You must use ‘the law’ as a vehicle to engage opponents politically. You must limit the availability of resources to enemies.
You must twist the bureaucracy so that its goal is support of your agenda, your desires, and your interpretations of what is required and not to serve the public. The management of the bureaucracy will likely go along; if you win so do they. If you stay in power so do they!
You need foot soldiers to go to the streets when the time comes. If you’re smart, you’ve already bought them off against the times when you need them. They are an essential element in the crisis you will require; either to generate it or to maintain it.
If you find yourself behaving in a way opposite from the positions you needed to take to procure power in the first place, don’t worry. Just define a new position and never fail to say; “as I’ve said before”!
You need crisis to position you to apply your resources and programs. Not small crisis, you will, of course, use small crisis to test your chops and judge reaction. But you need a big one to generate the power to execute the totalitarian shift. You will make the argument that security overwhelms rights, that the situation demands extraordinary powers. You will define the crisis as ‘never before seen’ that the situation demands that you ‘do something’! You will argue that expansion of central power is just temporary, you will use crisis to gain power and mitigate opposition, and you will not actually solve the crisis. A solved crisis does not fit the requirements for the political ‘shift’ toward totalitarianism.