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In the near future (2035), a power-hungry individual plans to become a politician, climb the ladder of power, be elected President of the United States of America, and then reorganize the government into a dictatorial autocracy.

Given the political system of the United States:

  • What path would a person with republican tendencies and affiliation to the party take to achieve dictatorial powers?

  • What path would a person with democratic (the party) tendencies and affiliation to the party take to achieve dictatorial powers?

Is either party more likely to support the rise of a person/power like this?

Answers should be based on current and future political, social and technological trends.

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    $\begingroup$ We can't answer this question because it is entirely subjective, which means you can basically choose whatever you want. Parties also change, which means we can't predict what they will be like in the future. $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Nov 10 '14 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ it's not off topic, it's opinion based. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Nov 10 '14 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't seem off-topic to me at all. It asks about the most plausible path by which one could get from the world at present to a particular hypothetical future. There are meaningful differences between the two major US parties in terms of their major donors, their geographic distribution of support, their history, and the beliefs and behaviors of their voters... so it seems absurd to say that the party is irrelevant. On the other hand, I grant that it also reads like a flamewar waiting to happen. $\endgroup$ – octern Nov 10 '14 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ This question does appear to be answerable. Assuming the parties current state and ideology (which has remained largely similar for the last 20 years). I'm going to edit for clarity... $\endgroup$ – superluminary Nov 10 '14 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Edited for clarity. Is this a better fit? I still think the people at politics would be better qualified to answer this. $\endgroup$ – superluminary Nov 10 '14 at 9:47
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Whichever one suits his ideology. Neither side is necessarily pro-dictatorship... unless you ask their opponents.

EDIT: You may find the Nolan Chart to provide an interesting (if vastly oversimplified) perspective on U.S. party politics. It places Libertarian vs. Totalitarian (or Statist, or Populist, or Communitarian) as an orthogonal axis to left-wing/right-wing political parties.

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    $\begingroup$ Best answer to an off-topic question, I think. $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Nov 10 '14 at 4:00
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The political party is irrelevant because they are similar. The personality of the leader is the most important factor.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd suggest an edit as : The political party is irrelevant because they are the same. The personality of the leader is the most important factor. ;) $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Nov 10 '14 at 23:52
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I'm glad the bits mentioning specific political parties were edited out, because I was worried that a lot of people would get offended by it (perhaps some were). More importantly, though, it means I don't have to address it in my answer. Well, you still do mention the parties, but there's a way around that.

Here's how to become dictator of the United States:

  1. Run for mayor of a moderately-sized town. "Moderately-sized" means that the population is greater than say, 15,000 people while being less than, say, 50,000 people. (I'm putting the odds against you here, forcing you to rise from obscurity.) As mayor, you'll be the face of the town. People will know you, and you can gain popularity if you play your cards right.
  2. Become a member of the state legislature. Here, you can make decisions that affect millions of people. Learn to work for the interests of many different, diverse groups, and gain their favor. Do what they want now so they'll trust you in the long run.
  3. Secure a state-level position. You need to become the face (or one of the faces) of your state to the nation. There are two paths here:

    A. Governor: Get yourself elected to the top job in the state. You'll get some experience for running for president, if you choose to do so. Be prepared to veto a lot of bills.

    B. Senator or Representative to Congress: Here, you're taking the Palpatine route. Fight for bills that benefit your home state, while being gracious to the nation. Again, make people like you, and make your home state love you. Forge alliances across the nation with other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle.

  4. Run for president: Here, we depart from the Palpatine route. If you were governor, you have experience with the duties of the executive branch. Either way, make sure that as many people as possible like you. Build their trust in you.

  5. Seize power: Here, you need the help of others. If you were in Congress, you've got connections. Nudge bills into existence that give you more power. Bribe officials, especially members of Congress, to let you do things you're really not supposed to. Start a major war or two to help you unify the nation and make yourself look really good. Then, pass an innocuous-looking bill which contains a section, buried somewhere in the footnotes, that contains a loophole that lets you do whatever you want.

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    $\begingroup$ So this basically boils down to: (1-4.) Become a well-liked president. (5.) Bribe the legislators to pass a law that secretly makes you dictator. (6. Profit?) $\endgroup$ – Caleb Hines Nov 11 '14 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @CalebHines Well, yes. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Nov 11 '14 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds a bit like President Johnson, minus the part where his predecessor is mysteriously assassinated. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jan 29 '15 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ @SerbanTanasa Which one? LBJ and Andrew Johnson were both VPs when their predecessor was assassinated. Or did you intend that? :-) $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jan 29 '15 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ Precisely my point. Something fishy about these Jonhsons :) $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jan 29 '15 at 1:37
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The answer is simple. There is no way for this to happen unless large blocs, even majorities of both parties agree on a unified policy of action due to some kind of major threat to the country as a whole. And both sides would have to agree that President Dictator is the guy to solve this problem.

If a large part of any party disagreed, there are enough ways to slow down the process for the two terms of President Dictator to expire and send him on his way. Note that part of the time would have to be spent actually trying to solve the problem, or else the idea that he is the guy for the job would start to be discredited.

The closest analog would be FDR. Enough people in the country liked his handling of the Depression and WWII that he was able to put in large changes in the government, like them or not without these changes being made into political targets for anyone except a small faction.

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In light of political events in America today, I thought it germane to resurrect this question.

It is strange how events that occur in just three years can drastically change the scope of a question from opinion-based to a question that has empirical evidence behind it.

I don't think anyone in 2014 could possibly have predicted the tremendous influence of social media, and in particular, Russian interference, on the American political scene. It is no longer a purely hypothetical scenario.

The answer has been proven to be 'Through intervention of public opinion through social media'. A concerted and directed dis-information campaign, directed by a centrally-organized body that has tremendous resources beyond just a political party (equivalent to the state resources of a country as powerful as Russia). A campaign that has access to an enormous data base of knowledge about the voting habits and, in fact, information on the personal habits and interests of the American public, hacked from sources as diverse as subscription lists and favorite internet sites visited. Then, using this database to specifically target social media messages to selected individuals, tailored to their fears and worries. See for instance Data of almost 200 million voters leaked online by GOP analytics firm as to how extensive this data base actually is.

In light of recent history, perhaps 2035 was overly pessimistic. But. in 2014, there were very few Americans who would ever have considered how much influence a foreign party could have on an American election. The internet, and social media, just wasn't considered a factor in any of the answers.

And in light of recent history, perhaps the door for using such techniques is rapidly closing.

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