Griftocracy is, obviously enough, rule by griftocrats. This does not require that all power is in the hands of the griftocrats, just that they dominate. In rough terms, a griftocrat is a grifter who has managed to secure public office and approaches this job primarily as a means to grift. What follows is a discussion of the qualities of the griftocrat; it must be kept in mind that this is not an attempt to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for being a griftocrat, but a general overview of the griftocrat.
A griftocrat’s primary focus is on self-enrichment, but a griftocrat might also aim at enriching their family or another limited circle. As most would point out, most politicians focus on self-enrichment. While it might be tempting to cast all politicians as griftocrats, the true griftocrat is defined as much by their chosen means as they are by their goal. As would be suspected, griftocrats use deceptive methods such as scams and cons in order to enrich themselves. To use a non-political example to illustrate the distinction, both the honest real estate agent and the real estate grifter both aim at enriching themselves. They key difference is that the real estate agent does not use deception to achieve their end, while the real estate grifter profits from scams, cons and other deceptions. An honest real estate agent will profit from selling you a house; the real estate grifter will profit from selling you the Brooklyn Bridge. Likewise, while the typical politician profits from their office, they generally do not use scams and cons to do so. They do, it m,ust be said, sometimes engage in various unethical practices such as insider trading and peddling their influence. Naturally, one could see all politicians as engaging in a con, but it is still worth distinguishing the griftocrat from the non-griftocrat. For example, the “honest” politician delivers the goods when they offer a pay to play; the griftocrat has no intent to deliver the goods; they are running scams and cons.
The griftocrat is often ignorant of matters they should know in order to properly do their job, but ignorance is not a requirement. Since the griftocrat is engaged in scams and cons, they have little reason to actually know the things that would be required to do their jobs properly and they certainly have little need for such knowledge when they can simply con and lie their way to enrichment.
The griftocrat is marked by a lack of values (aside from self-interest). This is a rather obvious point since they are, by definition, liars, cons and cheats. They have no meaningful commitment to advancing policies or an ideology except insofar as policies and ideologies aid the process of grifting. Both conservative and liberal ideologies and polices afford opportunities for the griftocrat, although conservative ideology tends to be more grift friendly. Reducing regulations and shrinking government, when done strategically, makes it easier for the griftocrat to grift. That said, increased regulation and bloated bureaucracies also provide ample opportunities for certain sorts of grifting. The griftocrat is, of course, only concerned with their grifting—as such, they tend to be ideologically fluid and easily shift between parties and political groups. They, after all, have no actual ideological commitment.
Griftocrats are opposed to those who might be critical of them and those who are truth seekers, such as honest journalists, scientists and academics. The griftocrat’s cons, lies and scams are endangered by the truth, so they will endeavor to attack, restrict, dismiss and discredit all those who value truth. This is exemplified by griftocrat attacks on non-allied news sources, on universities, and on science. This is most commonly done by griftocrats masquerading as conservatives—they can cast the news, academics and scientists as being liberals and avail themselves of decades of attacks on these targets. Griftocrafts masquerading as liberals also attack those who would expose their lies and scams, but griftocrats posing as leftists will obviously tend to go after conservative institutions, though they do sometimes attack liberal institutions and individuals that pose a challenge to their specific grifting.
Grifters tend to lack competence outside of their grifting skills; the skilled generally have neither the desire nor the need to grift. The griftocrat tends to be wary of the competent, since such people can present a danger to their grifting. Griftocrats obviously lack integrity and professionalism; they also regard people with those traits as a danger—they are the sort of people who will oppose and expose grifting. As such, a griftocrat will keep a careful eye on the competent and will do their best to ensure that those with integrity and professionalism are kept in the dark or removed if they become a threat. Conservative griftocrats can try to rid themselves of such threats by appealing to the notion of small government. All griftocrats will accuse those with integrity and professionalism of bias and weave conspiracy theories about them, such as the idea of a deep state. As would be expected, griftocrats expect loyalty from their people—but they do not offer loyalty in return and are somehow shocked when those they betray turn against them. They are also somehow shocked when the incompetent and unprincipled people they choose turn out to be incompetent and unprincipled. The griftocrat is thus trapped in a paradox: they want competent people with virtues such as loyalty and integrity, but their grifting can only thrive in the presence of incompetent or unprincipled people. To get around this, griftocrats often rely on family members; for family loyalty is the most basic and primitive form of loyalty—and grifters often seem to regard certain family members as “worthy” of being in on the grift. But families of grifters often find that a grifter’s only true loyalty is to themselves.
While a griftocrat would seem to be anathema to anyone with a commitment to value, ideology or policy, there are those who see value in a griftocrat. Since a griftocrat lacks principles and ideology of their own, they can be used by others as tools to advance their own ideologies, values and policies. For example, a griftocrat might not be committed to white nationalism, but they might find it advantageous to appeal to those who are committed to this ideology—or at least find it appealing. The white nationalist can recognize that the griftocrat is not truly one of them but also see that the griftocrat will be useful in advancing their agenda as they grift their way along. Those who do want particular policies in place can also find the griftocrat a useful tool—as long as the policy assists the grifting, the griftocrat is happy to support it.
In general, conservatives find griftocrats more useful, since they share with the griftocrat a focus on enrichment and the griftocrat will tend to favor weakening regulations, oversight and certain aspects of law enforcement so as to make their grifting easier. The main difference is the conservatives are generally not interested in being pure grifters and they often have an ideology and principles. To illustrate a CEO of a corporation would tend to want weakened oversight and regulation so it can cut costs and increase profits; the griftocrat wants weakened oversight and regulation so they can con people out of more money.
This is not to say that liberals cannot exploit griftocrats as well; but liberals tend to have an ideology that is hostile to things most useful to advancing grifting and, as their critics point out, liberals are often critical of too much focus on self-enrichment. That said, while grifting from the left has a higher degree of difficulty, there are those who do so quite successfully.
While a griftocrat can be useful to some, they do pose a significant danger to a country. After all, they are focused on self-enrichment and are happy to do so at the expense of the public good. Their tendency to be ignorant and incompetent also presents a danger as well—they can do considerable damage from a lack of understanding and by accident. As such, anyone who cares for the good of their country should not support a griftocrat—even if they think they can use the grifter to their own advantage.