Law, Politics

Trump/Caesar

Free Photo: Investigating the KKK

From Christian Meier’s Caesar: A Biography:

Caesar was insensitive to political institutions and the complex ways in which they operate. . . . Since his year as consul, if not before, Caesar had been unable to see Rome’s institutions as autonomous entities. . . . He could see them only as instruments in the interplay of forces. His cold gaze passed through everything that Roman society still believed in, lived by, valued and defended. He had no feeling for the power of institutions to guarantee law and security, but only for what he found useful or troublesome about them. . . . Thus what struck him most about the Senate was the fact that it was controlled by his opponents. It hardly seems to have occurred to him that it was responsible for the commonwealth. . . . In Caesar’s eyes no one existed but himself and his opponents. It was all an interpersonal game. He classified people as supporters, opponents, or neutrals. The scene was cleared of any suprapersonal elements. Or if any were left, they were merely props behind which one could take cover or with which one could fight. Politics amounted to no more than a fight for his rights.

Quoted in Jeremy Waldron’s Political Political Theory (2016), a defense of the importance of political institutions to political theory. Waldron concludes: “And by ‘his rights’ Meier meant not Caesar’s interests or his wealth but due recognition for his greatness.”

Jack Goldsmith, the conservative national security law scholar, notes that the President’s latest public attacks on the Attorney General, the acting FBI director, “and other attacks on key law enforcement figures in his own Executive branch goes far beyond breaking norms of investigatory independence. They bring us clearly into the territory, where we may have been for a while, of a president bent on destroying the authority of the Justice Department that he worries, perhaps for reasons only he knows, may destroy him.”

 

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One thought on “Trump/Caesar

  1. Caesar had an army that would march against the Republic when he told them to. Has Trump the forces to execute a comparable coup d’etat?

    Two other differences; Rome’s institutions were so inadequate as to have led to a whole series of outright civil wars, and Caesar was well grounded in reality

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