Earn the Peoples’ Trust Rather Than Rely on Fortresses

After the Capitol uprising, rather than earn Americans’ trust by ruling in their interests, the government has begun building defenses against the people, writes Joe Lauria.  

Borgia and Machiavelli, by Federico Faruffini (1833–1869)

“It is far better to earn the confidence of the people than to rely on fortresses.” —Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince. 

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Judging by the response of the Biden administration and Congress to the violent takeover of the Capitol it’s clear Machiavelli’s advice has been ignored.  Instead of winning the confidence of the American people by enacting an agenda that serves their interests rather than billionaires’, the new Democratic rulers are busy building fortresses. 

Washington DC will remain an armed camp of thousands of National Guardsmen until at least March following the inauguration and weeks after the Capitol siege. It prompted former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to ask President Joe Biden what his intentions are.


Rather than earning the confidence of the American people with a legislative agenda that meets their needs, especially national health insurance in the middle of a pandemic (which Biden and Democratic congressional leaders opposes), the president (who is proud of writing the basis of the Patriot Act) has proposed a new domestic terrorism law that targets the population. 

The U.S. faces a crisis of confidence in government, not a domestic terrorism crisis.

Silencing the People

The Democrats are further eroding the people’s trust with government censorship by proxy through social media giants aligned with the party’s goals. They started with banning Donald Trump from Twitter and Facebook, then Parler was destroyed, and now leftist social media accounts have been demonetized, suspended or removed. 

The aim appears to be not only to silence its critics, but to chip away at the right and left margins so that only centrist, official mainstream media will be left standing—in a fortress of information. They aim for a world in which the only news sources are the The New York Times, CNN and other corporate media to perpetuate the deception of American benevolence and protect the interests of the powerful from the people. Meanwhile, public confidence in mainstream journalism erodes

Deception Failing

Machiavelli also advised rulers: “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”  The draconian response to the Capitol uprising reveals that the normal way the U.S. manages its population–through deception–is failing. 

The U.S. has long deceived Americans that it is committed to democracy at home and spreading it abroad.  Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, this deception is daily promulgated on behalf of rulers by corporate media. But fewer Americans are being deceived and realize that while inequality at home widens, U.S. ferocity abroad continues. 

When deception fails, only force is left.

We’ve seen that for decades in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East: when the official narrative fails, people go to the streets and governments respond with belated and ineffectual reforms, continued (or intensified) censorship and ultimately armed force.  

While the Democrats smear all Trump supporters as “fascists” and “white supremacists” they join Republicans in confronting growing social unrest.  

The lesson leaders of both parties have not learned is: don’t make further enemies of the American people. Serve their interests and earn their confidence instead.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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24 comments for “Earn the Peoples’ Trust Rather Than Rely on Fortresses

  1. zhu
    February 12, 2021 at 07:10

    Were the US’ elite’s more afraid of ordinary people, perhaps they would not be so eager to impoverish the 99% and shove them into homeless shelters.

  2. Robert Sinuhe
    February 11, 2021 at 22:50

    The calvary will not ride to the rescue on this thing. The situation will continue because the American people no longer have a voice in the government, if they ever had. To those who feel things will change–relax pop some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

  3. DH Fabian
    February 11, 2021 at 20:10

    Focusing on a key point here: How would it be possible for a government to “earn the trust” of a people who are so deeply divided today?

    • Consortiumnews.com
      February 11, 2021 at 23:57

      The article clearly answers that question: adopt an agenda that serves the entire nations’ interests, not just billionaires.

  4. DH Fabian
    February 11, 2021 at 19:49

    Over 25 years into the Democrats’ war on the poor, the liberal bourgeoisie are incapable of understanding much of what’s happening. Instead, they just try to “reframe” the discussion.

  5. James Simpson
    February 11, 2021 at 02:42

    ‘Cause when love is gone, there’s always justice
    And when justice is gone, there’s always force
    And when force is gone, there’s always Mom. Hi Mom!
    So hold me, Mom, in your long arms
    Your petrochemical arms.
    Your military arms.
    In your electronic arms.

    Laurie Anderson, O Superman (For Massenet), 1980

  6. John OCallaghan
    February 10, 2021 at 23:11

    Exellent writing on the state of affairs in the US and reminds me when our Australian Govt built a wall around our Parliament House a few years ago, and since then have become more corrupt and secretive and is now bordering on the criminal.

    They should be building bridges ,not bloody walls!

  7. John Ross
    February 10, 2021 at 21:10

    Great job Joe, lump everybody not in the middle as an amorphous mass of anti-government people. I’m not a fascist, I believe we don’t tax the rich like we should, and I’m not a hater of women’s, non-white, or working class rights kinda human. The idea of “confidence of the American people” is to a large degree dependent on what one’s information/media sources/familiar is/was. We know who has the cash to own most media and its outlets, and its not people like me, so we pretty much know the ideology that the mass majority who consume the toxic fare of corporate media will develop (and curiously know their bland spots). Until America just says no to the capitalist class and their games of violence (as if violence is merely a game) and division, the ecocide wave growing every day will soon be a tsunami and few will be around to discuss the right, middle, or left. Oh, what to do what to do?!

  8. robert e williamson jr
    February 10, 2021 at 15:59

    It should be obvious to everyone your piece here was up before my comments of Feb 10, on the Feb 9th Press Freedom Groups Urge Biden DOJ drop charges against Assange.

    I wish I have read this first I would have made my comments here instead. The message would be the same though.

    As number one thing to do I listed , “When you are stuck at in the bottom of a hole, stop digging.” Until I read your message here I had no idea that what really I was addressing would also apply to what you wrote.

    Americans are fed up with the continuous flood of Bull Shit, far too much of it extraneous, and add greatly to the mistrust Americans have in their government.

    Joe Lauria is so on top of this problem. Our governments failures of specifically the last 21 years have caused a hemorrhagic evaporation of trust from the lowest income groups in the country. Hopefully they, these failures, are clear enough for everyone to see that little other explanation should be needed.

    Great stuff Joe, the truth is maybe the greatest healing essence ever.

    Truth, compassion and generosity, President Joe, is what this country needs.

    Thanks CN

    • DH Fabian
      February 11, 2021 at 19:58

      Have you noticed that the several million Americans who were left jobless are excluded from the public/media discussion today? Just “disappeared,” as if only those fortunate enough to have jobs qualify as “humans.” Things start getting pretty creepy when a country decides that a segment of its population are something less than humans.

  9. Tony Sustak
    February 10, 2021 at 15:37

    in oligarchies, past or present, THE PEOPLE ARE THE DANGER to the oligarchs’ rule.

    Consent of a sort, has bee n Manufactured. It has been reported that 78% of Democratic leaning voters believe that Russia played a significant role in Trump’s ascension to the White House.

    That Trump voters believed that at least to some extent, Trump was some kind of antidote to the rot in the US oligarchic system, strains credulity.

    I people of any political hue want a frank look at the state of the US, with Chris Hedge’s speeches based on his book: America The Farewell Tour.

    Read the book or listen to the Podcasts. America the Farewell Tour only reinforces in harrowing details, what many of us know, irregardless of political stripe.

    Listen and learn; read and weep; make common cause with humanity, lest we become our own ‘extinction event’.

  10. February 10, 2021 at 15:18

    They are resorting to fortresses precisely because deception is no longer working.
    The January 6th “insurrection” was staged to give themselves the green light to build up the ramparts. They’re all going at it right this minute as we speak, building naked totalitarian state. There will be no need for deceptions then.
    The real American Hitler will not come from the Republican Party.

    • James Simpson
      February 11, 2021 at 02:45

      Oh, don’t be silly. There was no staging involved, no need to. Trump’s adoring fans, hyped up on white resentment which was stoked further by the ignorant, foolish contempt shown towards them by wealthy Dems, were itching to do it.

    • Daniel
      February 11, 2021 at 10:30

      I think you are right, and I have no illusions that any of these folks will heed Mr. Lauria’s words. Because it has been clear for some time now that our dear leaders have no intention of changing course. That time is long past, and they have nothing left now, following decades of corruption and societal decay, but to built moats around themselves to keep the plebs out.

      It’s all psy-ops all the time now, and I do believe January 6 was a big one. Too many FBI informants on hand for the event for it to be anything else, IMHO – not to mention the cooperative cops, ex-military, and very few arrests of the plotters, planners and paymasters of the event. All this to facilitate the ‘new normal’ of elite protectionism, ‘domestic terrorism’ dragnets and internet censorship that our dear leaders desperately need in place to keep themselves safe from the rabble.

      Earning the people’s trust is not on their agenda.

  11. February 10, 2021 at 14:24

    Excellent article but falling on deaf ears, especially with respect to deluded “change from within progressives” who, rather than realizing they were duped, again (Charley Brown and Lucy come to mind), are doubling down and massively increasing their dedication to polarization.

    • Frank Lambert
      February 11, 2021 at 10:46

      Guillermo, I think you nailed it! To me, these “faux progressives,” are not really progressive in the true sense of the word, but are harbingers for the Democratic Party, who can do no wrong in their opinion. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but for eight years, they justified the Obama agenda and during this last presidential campaign, had Joe Biden walking on water, so to speak, ignoring his voting record for the many decades he’s held political office. Unfortunately, the American people are easily swayed in doing the bidding of the real power brokers and the rich and mega-rich whose insatiable greed for more money and power is dismantling all the good things which were hard fought for in years past. “Gods and Money”, by F. William Engdahl is a must read in my opinion. The Deep State has been active long before even our grandparents were born.

  12. David Parker
    February 10, 2021 at 12:13

    I agree.

  13. Kurt M
    February 10, 2021 at 11:32

    Interesting that the Trump administration was vilified for wanted to build walls at our borders to control the flow of those who are unwanted in our country while the Biden administration intention to build walls around our Capital to control the flow of those unwanted in our country goes relatively unchallenged.

    • Dana Allen
      February 11, 2021 at 01:38

      All tyrants seem to build walls to keep the riff raff out of the capital city. I wonder if there is analogy to the fence around the DC capital to the fall of the US Empire that is similar to what happened in Rome as that Empire declined then fell.

  14. John Perry
    February 10, 2021 at 10:55

    The election system(s) in the US is indefensible, yet it’s widely reported that the 2020 election was pristine and that there was no basis for even musing that there might have been fraud committed. I don’t know if it’s even knowable who ‘really’ won in November, and given the major candidates, I don’t really care. The bigger election issue tangentially suggested by Mr. Lauria is that there is very little effort to fix our election system to give the American people confidence that it’s not rigged. Instead of fixing the system, ‘losers’ are mocked. Most reform efforts try to shine up the margins. No voting holiday (with pay), no required hand marked ballots for those who are able, no on-site open (hand) counting of the paper ballots required. The Democrat won, so the mocking is about the level of intelligence and academic success of the protestors. Next time it will be the Republicans winning, so the half-caf, soy chai latte Dem liberals will be mocked for their effeminate choices in beverages, or their lack of sufficient hate for America’s ‘enemies.’ Real election reform and a break up of the conglomerate stranglehold of the media companies, the internet and the airwaves could mitigate a lot of our problems. So we instead will get more censorship and from-behind-the-wall mocking of critics.

  15. John R
    February 10, 2021 at 08:16

    IMHO this is one of the most accurate spot-on offerings on the current state of affairs today in the USA. Thank you Joe Lauria and CN.

    • grayslady
      February 10, 2021 at 13:13

      I second this remark.

      • Antiwar7
        February 10, 2021 at 16:04

        I second your second. Could that multiply?

        • Frank Lambert
          February 11, 2021 at 09:40

          Yes, I just second all the seconds!

          Thank you fellow posters and thank you Joe Lauria and the staff of Consortium News for continuing the work of the Great Robert Parry,

Comments are closed.