Here in PA life continues to be nuts. Supermarkets are… interesting. Items just drop out of stock seemingly at random – with the exception of toilet paper, which I’ve yet to see in stock. Thankfully we at Casa Paulk are well stocked right now.
The Husband is back at work, although we don’t know how long it will last. Shipping management isn’t exactly amenable to working from home, so obviously he doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the numbers being reported continue to resemble “flu season” rather more than “black death” (you can tell I’m surprised by this, right? (Yes, that is sarcasm)). Honestly, if I were an evil ruler, something like this would be an absolute delight.
Herein lieth the lesson in plotting…
First apply what would appear to be common sense restrictions based on a crisis. We can all see that happening – and the arguments on whether or not the crisis is as crisis-y as advertised and whether the restrictions are really common sense are pretty much moot because you’ve got a nice sense of panic going because you, being a would-be evil despot have control of your news reporting methods, right? Right.
Next, wait a month or so. With, of course, intermittent reports of how hard you and your loyal minions (do choose a better way to put this – that’s what you pay the propaganda department for) are working to fix things. It wouldn’t do for people to think you’re sitting back and enjoying the quiet, after all.
The next step needs a bit of judgment. You need to wait until people have adjusted to the restrictions as the “new normal” so you don’t get pushback. Then you announce the reason your restrictions have to stay in place. Britain managed to keep rationing going for nearly ten years after World War 2 ended, so it’s not exactly unprecedented.
After the extended restrictions are accepted, the rest is easy: you denounce any groups or people complaining about them as being against the safety of your citizens. If your propaganda department has done its job, your people will do the cleaning up for you.
Naturally, any problems that crop up are the fault of these horrible dissidents, so of course you blame them – and use them to slowly tighten restrictions as far as you want. If your propaganda department can swing it, having your loyal fools… er… citizens call for those restrictions themselves is the best option. The phrase “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have no reason to object” is a good one to keep in mind. It’s worked for any number of obnoxious and outright evil laws.
Eventually, you’ll have the tyranny you want, and if you’ve been careful, your loyal citizens will love you for it. They will even blame inept bureaucrats, your enemies, or their enemies for any misfortune. “Oh, if Uncle Joe knew,” they’ll bemoan.
You will, as a fictional villain, want to make sure no crusading heroes target you (since in fiction-land being targeted by a hero means you’re doomed), but other than that, you’re set.
Here endeth the lesson.
And for those of us who are sitting getting a severe case of “oh crap” thinking about the possibility, remember, our politicians are, with very few exceptions, too inept to manage something like this (I fear for Russia. Putin is a very clever, very dangerous man. If he chose, he could easily pull something like this off and make it look like he was completely innocent). And our bureaucrats are even more so.
Something I remind myself of on a near daily basis: “Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.” In these times of underpants-on-head crazy, it helps.