Tag Archives: Ancient Rome

First Citizen

The first president I can remember is Ronald Reagan.  But he wasn’t president when I was born.  Jimmy Carter was.  I’m saddened today to think that the first president my daughter will remember is Donald Trump.  But I’m glad that I’ll be able to remind her that the president when she was born was Barack Obama.

The classicist in me can’t help but look back.  We compare ourselves to Rome and Greece.  We are not an Athenian democracy.  Our government is much closer to that of the Roman Republic.  People tend to focus on the fall of the Roman Empire, but we should think about how the Roman Republic fell.  Augustus Caesar did not call himself “emperor”.  He was the First Citizen.  The Roman Republic didn’t fall in glory.  It was chipped away at until the Senate did not have enough power to override the decisions of the First Citizen.  Why was Julius Caesar murdered by members of the Senate?  To protect their power.

Do not read that wrong.  We are better than Ancient Rome.  We can use the lessons of their history.  We can encourage our legislative branch to act as the check on the executive branch our founders designed them to be.

Yes, today I weep.  Today I mourn for the world my daughter is growing up in.  Today I am sad that half of my country voted to return to a glorious past that didn’t exist for the other half of my country.

And tomorrow?  Tomorrow I will stand up and continue to do what I can to make at least my corner of the world a better place.

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