Well Happy New Year in what may prove to be the last year of the Republic. Oh I suppose like ancient Rome the nominal republic may go on for years or even decades. But we have seen in the elections of the last several cycles, that money buys power, influence to a degree that hasn’t been equaled since Rome. And now we are seeing that that same money and power buys immunity from the very Constitution that elected officials are sworn to uphold.
Just as Caesar was immune to law because he was Caesar and ultimately named Dictator for Life, we are seeing George Bush (is it even meaningful to call him “president” anymore?) step all over the Constitution in the name of his WOT. A war whose parameters only he can define and whose end only he can declare and which gives him ultimate power to do anything he damn well pleases. At least Caesar had to be named Dictator for Life by the Senate–a formality admittedly because he had become that in fact anyway. Our Constitution gives the President the title of Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States (Article II section 2). That stipulating phrase at the end of the title seems to be a nicety that C-I-C Bush thinks is unnecessary citing as he has his authority as C-I-C to do everything from drilling for oil in Alaska to tapping domestic phone calls and even possibly monitoring Quaker meetings.
Although it took Caesar to tip the Roman Republic into dictatorship and finally empire, he was just the final enabling catalyst. The polity that was the Roman Republic was almost republic in name only before Caesar. It happened because the monied, aristocratic class wanted to be an oligarchy. To call Rome a democracy would do injury to the word but it did offer rights and protections for all non-slave classes. The oligarchs eroded that and ultimately Rome’s politics became a turf war among the powerful and the connected–a turf war that ultimately brought Caesar to power. I suppose without Caesar there would have been another thug to step up to the task of fully dismantling the Republic, but that is academic for there was Caesar himself to do the job. By the time of his assassination that task was mostly complete.
In the power vacuum his murder left came civil war then Octavius who would become Augustus. And with him the transformation was complete. Rome became an Empire. Although even Augustus viewed himself merely as “First Citizen.”
Now we see C-I-C Bush admit to breaking the Constitution and boasting that he would continue to do it. at the same time we see that the likelihood that he will be held to account for his illegal and unconstitutional actions to be distant. Like Caesar I guess it didn’t require George Bush to destroy the American Republic, as I said it has been going on for a while. But we do have George Bush. And we have our oligarchs in the majority party that like the Senate in Rome thought they could control the beast that they were bringing to life. Of course they can’t. Oligarchy is a very unstable form of government and ultimately devolves into dictatorship.
Perhaps we can rescue ourselves from this fate. Perhaps the institutions have not been destroyed to the point where their resilience has been totally compromised. Perhaps the oligarchs will realize that they are no more precious to the all powerful executive than the fawning masses he would use to populate his preening appearances. Already we have seen that he completely disregarded the oligarchs in his plan to illegally wiretap Americans. Perhaps the American people and the Press will realize that times are critical and will stand up against a marauding executive, and demand that he be held to account like all citizens–whether First or last.
Our Constitution is a powerful document but it is merely parchment without the backbone of the people and those sworn to uphold it to ensure that the law of our nation is upheld and that this nation shall endure.