Directions for a Demagogue

There is an art to committing crimes as a politician. While the objective of that art is clear—to get away with breaking the law, the methods thereof are not always so obvious. In fact, one of the best ways to get away with tricking, defrauding and betraying the people that elected you is quite simply to commit your crimes in public. 

It may sound insane, but there is a method to the madness. If you can trick enough people into believing you when you pretend that the crime you just committed wasn’t a crime, you will not only get away scot free, but you will remain free to then commit the same crime as much as you like in the future, without fear of punishment.

The downside of this method is that it requires a good deal of setup, though the setup itself is quite simple. The first step is to find some platform where your followers can listen to you without any pesky fact-checkers interfering—a rally or social media page is perfect for this. Next, slowly begin to cultivate a sense of distrust in the mainstream media. This isn’t as hard to do as it sounds—the recent trends away from compromise and towards polarization and identity politics have already planted the seeds of distrust in the “other side,” whatever that may be. 

 Next, water your seed with plenty of small lies, slowly broadening the gap between what you say and what the mainstream media reports. Again, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. Nobody bothers to fact check these days, and even if they do the cognitive dissonance between their trust in you and the new facts they’ve learned will be so intense they will probably just ignore your lies or make excuses for you.

Once you’ve created a cult-like following that trusts you more than anyone else, you can begin to commit your crimes. It’s best to start with something people don’t understand very well, such as emoluments. Legally, you’re not allowed to financially benefit from being an elected offical, but most people don’t know that. Thus, if you talk publicly about, say, holding a major international summit at your private golf resort, when someone tries to bring up that your proposal is totally illegal, your devoted followers will assume the “fake news” is just being unfair to their beloved demagogue. 

After that, you can move on to something a little more obvious, like trying to get a foreign country to interfere with your next election. Even if you were in hot water for doing this secretly before, you can get out of it easily by continuing your illegal activities in public. Surely, they will say, if it was actually wrong he wouldn’t be doing it here for everyone to see. Repeating this over and over again, you can normalize any crime you need to, perhaps even going so far as to suggest that you can’t be convicted of crimes at all just to be sure that no one will make a futile attempt at getting our broken legal system to come after you.

Of course, you could always be impeached, but that’s going to be pretty hard to do considering that subpoenas and document requests are just words written on paper that you can ignore, since you are now effectively above the law. In fact, ignoring investigations into your misconduct actually helps you—if you pretend like the investigation is totally illegitimate, you might just be able to convince the populace that this is a partisan issue rather than a legal proceeding, and polarization will take care of the rest. 

            The hard work is done now, so you can sit back and relax. Hell, you could even gloat to your followers that you could murder someone on the street and suffer no consequences.

            Wouldn’t that be funny?