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Fri Jan 20, 2017, 12:16 AM

Indirect Democracy, complacency, and the Fall of the Roman Republic

I've been thinking of how similar Rome's history is to ours. The Roman senate was a form of indirect democracy such as we have. It bred complacency in its citizens who were happy to just let the senate do what it thought best. This is similar to most of the U.S. who does not want to be involved in politics. The end of the Roman republic came out of a manufactured crisis kind of like Obamacare, Drain the Swamp, etc. Finally, the first triumvirate had a celebrity (Julius Caesar), a military man (Pompey), and a man with a lot of cash to fund the coup (Crassus). We have a celebrity (tRump), a military man (Putin), and a people with a lot of cash (RNC donors, Putin again, supposedly tRump). In the beginning, Caesar refused to be emperor. In the beginning, tRump said he did not want to be president (might just withdraw after he won the RNC). Slowly but steadily, Caesar gained more power and became a true emperor. Slowly, tRump has been insinuating himself into government (with his cabinet picks and pushing congress to get rid of ACA, etc).

We know how it ended for Caesar; the senators, his buddies, stabbed him to death. At what point will this happen to tRump?

The scariest thought to come out of this has been the fact that Rome did not learn its lesson and continued to allow increasingly bad emperors to assume control. Will this happen to us?

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Reply Indirect Democracy, complacency, and the Fall of the Roman Republic (Original post)
ProudLib72 Jan 2017 OP
yortsed snacilbuper Jan 2017 #1
Efilroft Sul Jan 2017 #2
ProudLib72 Jan 2017 #3
Efilroft Sul Jan 2017 #4

Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 20, 2017, 12:36 AM

1. Caligula had been emperor for less than four years.

Caligula suffered from a chronic inability to sleep, managing only few hours of sleep a night, and then suffering from horrendous nightmares. Often he would wander through the palace waiting for daylight.

Remind you of anybody?

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 20, 2017, 01:17 AM

2. America does indeed have similarities to the Roman Republic's long, slow decline.

And if current events are mirroring those that happened in the first century BC, we are not yet at the Julius Caesar stage; rather, we are where things stood following the civil war between Marius and Sulla Felix. But even the war between Marius and Sulla Felix wasn't the beginning of Rome's decline. For that, you have to go back two generations, or roughly 50 years before, to the time when the brothers Gracchi, Tiberius and Gaius, tried to reform Rome's political system controlled by the landed wealthy.

The brothers were populares ("men of the people" and the wealthy Senators who were their opponents were called optimates ("best men". Long story short, Tiberius and Gaius lost their lives, one by a rival mob and one by his hand to avoid the tender mercies of a second mob, and the Republic's control was retained by its version of the 1%. Approximately 50 years ago, America lost reformers John and Robert Kennedy to that peculiar form of political violence of the time, assassinations. I consider them our nation's Gracchi, and the loss of RFK and all that America could have been under his presidency is one of our history's worst tragedies.

Jump ahead to the Marius and Sulla Felix conflict, and you'll see that it was basically between a politician who believed he was entitled to the highest office in the land (Marius, wanting yet another go at being co-consul) and a crass pig who was the darling of the traditional, conservative optimates (Sulla Felix). The funny thing about Sulla Felix was that he liked to hang out with his less savory friends when he was having a good time, but the traditionalists somehow looked beyond that, much like today's evangelicals do with Trump.

Sulla eventually got himself installed as a dictator, and as a dictator, he was determined to settle scores with his political enemies, see them dead, and have their property confiscated. You can spot a similar vindictive streak in Trump. With Erik Prince whispering in his ear from the shadows, who knows how far he'll go? Trump sees "enemies" instead of political rivals. Richard Branson said when he met with Trump, all the man talked about was exacting revenge. So take that for what it's worth.

Should America continue to slide into the abyss much like the Roman Republic, I think we're one generation removed from the rise of a Julius Caesar. This Caesar type will proclaim to be a man of the people who rails against the elite, but in truth, he (like Trump) will be an optimate, a member of the 1% or at least their darling. And if he's from the military, and a general who inspires the troops to be more loyal to him than the country they serve, we are all in for a world of sorrow.

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Response to Efilroft Sul (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 20, 2017, 12:08 PM

3. Thanks for reminding me

It has been 20 + years since I studied the fall of the republic, and I had forgotten a lot. All I could think of was the senators and their latifundia. I think one similarity that traverses all of the republic's and empire's history is the constant hearkening back to the good old days and strength of Rome, the motto SPQR. That is something that we have seen throughout the tRump campaign with Make America Great Again. It's right wing progress disguised as traditionalist values.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 20, 2017, 01:08 PM

4. You're very welcome.

I'm much more a fan of Republican politics than the intrigues of the Empire. There were so many colorful personalities in the final 80 years of the Republic, and their voices still speak to me today. I wish there were more information on the Gracchi, but alas, time has not been kind to the preservation of that knowledge.

As for SPQR, I'm a fan of its symbolism so long as it represents Republican ideals and not fascism. The same can be said about our flag; liberals have to take it back and, as much as possible, marry it to the ideals we all hold dear and cherish and let everyone know what our America represents.

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