BETTLE: Will the Ides of March Come Before the Crossing?

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The Founders of the United States premised much of our nation on the Roman Republic’s government system, history, and culture. Many unique and novel ideas, though, were created with the American Experiment. An unintended addition has recently seemed to be an analogous timeline to Rome’s cascade into an authoritarian Empire. But, to the contrary, it is within human nature to repeat harmful patterns—regardless of learned better behaviors. As the old adage goes, those who do not know history are…

Before the demise of the Roman Republic, the Ides of March was a holiday celebrated annually on the 15th of March. Unironically, it was notable as being a deadline to settle debts. It became forever notorious as the day Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C. A conspiracy created and carried out by the Senate’s leader. 

Julius Caesar’s ascension to power put into play the events which led to the fall of the Roman Republic. Upon crossing the Rubicon in 49 B.C., Caesar led an army onto Rome, securing it to seize power. This began the civil wars which led to Caesar’s consolidation of unchallenged power and influence over what quickly fell from a democratic republic to a dictatorship. 

Caesar ran roughshod over the established legislative powers used for centuries—while his army kept him secure in Rome. With his unchecked powers, he implemented laws out of whole cloth with the stroke of a pen. Among many other things, one major cause of civil unrest around the republic was Caesar’s willingness to grant citizenship to, essentially, any foreigner who wanted it. Of course, these grants were only for subjects in provinces far from Rome, on the outer skirts of its territories. 

This angered the Governors of the various territories—who were then roundly punished by Caesar. The Roman people were suffering under deteriorating living standards because endless military conquests and political turmoil left the country heavily indebted. The heavy government debt led to crippling inflation, a lagging economy, high taxation, and inept government with a spending problem. This incompetence in dealing with contemporary problems facing everyday Romans led to massive revolts and riots. 

Caesar proceeded to centralize the federal government’s bureaucracy over its principalities and dictated every facet of Roman life from the ivory towers of the Capitol. Caesar appointed allies that rubber-stamped his tyranny. Caesar lavishly spent the Roman people’s wealth from the treasury on games, celebrations, and his allies. The Senate made him pay the ultimate price.

This week, the people who control the occupants of the White House issued a directive for all agencies to start referring to the administration—traditionally named after the President, who the people, allegedly, elect—as the Biden-Harris administration. Such an action is strange… and without precedent in American history.

Did our Ides of March come before the Crossing of the Rubicon?

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