In reading of ancient Rome, I find the shared reign of Diocletian and Maximian which brought transformative change to the traditions of Roman government.
The passage transcribed below struck me as pertinent upon reading it last night, but doubly so now that the latest outrage against the Constitution and the rule of law has been revealed. I speak of the purported attempt by our princeps magnificus to defy decisions in Congress, the Supreme Court and the Federal Elections Commission. So far, the outrage is only known through a leaked draft of an executive order. Said EO is making the rounds of bureaucrats and, according to Labor Union Report, is also being vetted for its ability to withstand legal challenge.
Do you wonder, as I do, why this White House would bother to check the legality of this Order? Why would they, when this White House and this Department of Justice, under the sagacious and virtuous leadership of Eric Holder, have blatantly defied the court ruling on lifting the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico? Not to mention the legal protections AG Holder steadfastly championed in the Philadelphia voter intimidation case (not). But examples of Holderâ€™s perfidy are legion.
It seems our princeps magnificus has a disdain for the First Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the very first amendment listed among those ten amendmentsâ€”the ones known as the Bill of Rights–which are revered and enshrined in the United States Constitution? Indeed, princeps magnificus is living up to Kennyâ€™s correct assessment of him as our Dictator in Training Pants â„¢.
In short the princeps-Dictator-slash-magnificus-Training Pants intends to force the officers and directors of government contractors at the federal level, to disclose their political contributions. If you thought that the defeat of the DISCLOSE Act meant it had gone to the dustbin of history, well, guess again. Details are given of this extra-constitutional power grab here, and here, where the full draft of the EO is included.
Pretense of a republic â€“ sound familiar? It does if youâ€™re a political junkie. And if you read history, even at the dilletante level like I do, the parallels between the here and now and the long ago are gob-smackingly stark. I know you, dear readers, will make your own value judgments and draw your own comparisons, so I will refrain from adding my own to this transcript from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I, other than a few clarifying remarks. If you are rushed and/or already familiar with the history, just read the bolded portions.
Or, you could just skip the reading altogether and start researching the location of the next meeting of your local Republican Party. Some places you can visit to learn important facts and how-to are here, here and here.
Now on to the original inspiration for this dispatch.
Conscript Fathers of the Roman senate are stuck in the past, and cling to their power and prerogatives:
The dislike expressed by Diocletian towards Rome and Roman freedom was not the effect of momentary caprice, but the result of the most artful policy. The crafty prince had framed a new system of Imperial government, which was afterwards completed by the family of Constantine; and as the image of the old constitution was religiously preserved in the senate, he resolved to deprive [the senate] of its small remains of power and consideration. We may recollect, about eight years before the elevation of Diocletian, the transient greatness and the ambitious hopes of the Roman senate. As long as that enthusiasm prevailed, many of the nobles imprudently displayed their zeal in the cause of freedom; and after the successors of Probus had withdrawn their countenance from the republican party, the senators were unable to disguise their impotent resentment.
The description of the (most likely violent) means through which Diocletian, through his fiercer co-emperor, Maximian, put the kibosh on these senatorial pretensions to legislative power, is here deleted. Use your imagination, in other words.
Diocletian, like his predecessor Augustus, talked like a Republican but ruled like an Obama.
But the most fatal though secret wound which the senate received from the hands of Diocletian and Maximian was inflicted by the inevitable operation of their absence [from the capitol, Rome]. As long as the emperors resided at Rome, that assembly might be oppressed, but it could scarcely be neglected. The successors of Augustus exercised the power of dictating whatever laws their wisdom or caprice might suggest; but those laws were ratified by the sanction of the senate. The model of ancient freedom was preserved in its deliberations and decrees; and wise princes, who respected the prejudices of the Roman people, were in some measure obliged to assume the language and behaviour suitable to the general [of the armies of the republic] and first magistrate [supreme executive, priest, lawgiver and judge]. In the armies and in the provinces they displayed the dignity of monarchs; and when they fixed their residence at a distance from the capitol, they forever laid aside the dissimulation which Augustus had recommended to his successors.
[Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, restored the surface forms of the Roman Republic but, in actuality, retained autocratic power.]
In the exercise of the legislative as well as the executive power, the sovereign advised with his ministers, instead of consulting the great council of the nation. The name of the senate was mentioned with honour till the last period of the empire; the vanity of its members was still flattered with honorary distinctions; but the assembly which had so long been the source, and so long the instrument of power, was respectfully suffered to sink into oblivion. The senate of Rome, losing all connection with the Imperial court, and the actual constitution, was left a venerable but useless monument of antiquity on the Capitoline hill.
[Insert appropriate redacted Latin phrase here.]
In the era of deem and pass, rule by czar, bureaucratic fiat, and one executive edict after another, it behooves us to beware not only the Ides of March, but the march of socialism/Marxism/collectivism that is stealing the future from our children and grandchildren. I donâ€™t think we will make it to the next phaseâ€”that where the degradation is so complete that we no longer read, no longer know God, and are no longer American in any recognizable sense. Such is my faith.
For further inspiration and the best way to survive going forward, read this kind lady’s experiences, and take her heartfelt advice. Get into the real ballgame of politics, as Cold Warrior says.