My most recent assignment was to write a Process essay: how to make a peanut butter sandwich, how to tie your shoes, what to do to get out of a speeding ticket - you know the stuff. I opted, as per the usual, for a more creative approach. I ask you, dear reader, to envision as you read an aging ex-vice president sitting fireside with you in a remote hovel in the mountains. Enjoy.
The principles which Machiavelli had so explicitly unveiled are still relevant today. They are the sound foundation upon which I had once striven to erect my own empire, to become my own prince. For a time I had ruled the world; I know now how to accomplish the feat as clearly as I knew then. Hindsight, however, is 20/20, and I understand now the mistakes that led to how I exist today, aged and decrepit. It is a simple matter, to rule a nation, and easily attainable by one so ambitious and inventive as yourself.
One must first bide their time in preparation for the critical moment to act, you will know the time when it comes. The proper groundwork is tantamount to the success of your endeavors, and will make all of the difference in your bid for power. As with any worthwhile endeavor, resources are crucial, and the time spent in wait should be invested in accumulating funds. Oil companies are desirable in today's market, as they were in my own time.
The road to power should not be traveled alone, and your efforts should also be directed towards gathering the henchmen who would assist you on your eventual rise to power. Your leadership should include a representative of the minorities within your population. This will not likely convince any minority of your benevolence, but will help smooth the insecurities of a skeptic majority. You should also enlist the aid of a talented spinster to divert the prying eyes of the masses in times of need. Most importantly, you must find a figurehead. As tempting as it may seem to take credit for your scheming, you must not allow yourself to be held responsible for your actions. You must seek out a marionette, a veritable everyman capable of shedding blame as if it were water. He must not be intelligent, nor may he be ambitious. Be wary that he is not too small-minded, however, for it was a simpleton that was instrumental in my own demise.
In comparison with your efforts thus far, gaining a foothold of power will seem elementary. Your election, provided that you act in a free nation, should be won, not bought. Calling in favors, mudslinging, and tampering with voting machines are all fair game. Do not hesitate to alienate potential voters if it ensures your victory here, as you will not likely have need for them by the time the next election rolls around. Once you have established yourself in office, the real work of building your empire begins.
Your time in office is likely intended to be temporary, and you should treat it as such. You will need to rally the people behind you, enabling you to more quickly and efficiently further your own goals. This is easily accomplished by starting a war. Then, when media attention has ceased and support has dwindled, start another war. I was fortunate enough to have lived in a country that was hated by the rest of the world, but simple excuses may not be enough to sway the populace; you should not neglect the effectiveness of poor diplomacy. In the likely event that the people grow tired of war, you may temporarily stave off dissent by making a victory speech. Accompany this with some subtle adjustment to your war strategy, the most obvious being an ideological shift from an assault to an aggressive occupation to buy yourself the time to instate the appropriate legislation to ensure your whim remains de facto. Be lenient, however, and do not fear to withdraw from battle if pressure becomes too intense. Were I so wise in my own time, I'd not be where I am today.
The final ace up your sleeve is intimidation. People tend to be a sensitive lot, and will not respond for long to displays of brutality. A much more emphatic response may be elicited through muttered threats and indefinite certainties. Were you to accidentally shoot your friend in the face, the message would not be misconstrued.
The matter of ruling is never a simple one, however, and no amount of foresight can prepare one for every eventuality. Because of my own failure to act, my time has long since come and passed. There can be no second chances for those such as ourselves, only a swift and decisive victory or a terrible, crushing defeat. You must act in complete confidence, but never fail to check your decisions and adapt to your mistakes. Bullheadedness, ultimately, can rend a potential leader asunder. You, my protégé, must not allow yourself the same mistakes that I have made. With that, I leave you to begin your work.