Tale of 3 Republics Is Cautionary for US Today

July 20, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

Commentary

The next three months will be among the most perilous in American history.

Will Donald Trump—a man who inspires frothing fury in his enemies, who have sworn to depose him by any means necessary—defeat the hologram of a semi-senile and reclusive Joe Biden? Or will the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition seize control not only of the Congress, as seems increasingly possible, but the White House itself?

And if Biden somehow wins, with an activist vice president at his side who will really be running the country in his place, will the current levels of street violence in America subside—or will an emboldened left, unbridled at last, ratchet up the mayhem?

Or will the thus-far quiescent right, which has remained admirably stoic in the face of overwhelming provocation—buildings, including churches, burned, statues of great men pulled down, conservatives assaulted—finally say, along with Howard Beale, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Republican Rome

The past offers us some lessons. Call it the Tale of Three Republics.

Republican Rome was wracked by not one but a series of bloody civil wars, first between Sulla and Marius between 88 B.C. and 80 B.C., and then the epic struggle between Pompey and Caesar that ended in 48 B.C. at the battle of Pharsalus, with Pompey’s defeat and Caesar’s accession to dictator for life shortly before his assassination in 44 B.C.—an event that saw the end of the Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Caesar’s adopted son, Augustus.

The dynastic struggles among Rome’s patrician families have a counterpart in the United States today. Since George H.W. Bush won an undistinguished term as Ronald Reagan’s successor in 1988, and was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992, our electoral politics have been an undemocratic succession of Bushes and Clintons, with son succeeding father in the GOP and wife vying to supplant her husband for the Democrats. Only the victory of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination broke the skein; and, mercifully, Jeb Bush failed utterly to win the Republican nomination in 2016.

Should Michelle Obama decide that being Joe Biden’s veep would suit her and the former president just fine—after all, they’ve never left D.C.—it’s hers for the asking. And another dynasty would begin. As Rome showed, however, dynasties aren’t a good thing: the first five emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty included Caligula and Nero.

American Civil War

Americans have forgone an actual civil war since 1865, but today, we find ourselves in the midst of what I have termed since 2009 the Cold Civil War—a conflict of ideologies and pathologies that find their modern embodiments in the forms of the Democratic and Republican parties, but even more so in what we have come to call the “blue” and “red” states.

In the period between James Monroe (the fifth and last of the founding presidents), who left office in 1825, and the election of the first Republican chief executive, Abraham Lincoln, the presidents are mostly an obscure lot, aside from John Quincy Adams (son of the second president) and Andrew Jackson. By the time we got to James Buchanan in 1857, the country was spiraling toward civil war—an event that would arrive almost simultaneously with Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861.

Then, as now, the Democrats refused to accept the election, and the Southern states under their control promptly seceded. Four years later, unable to accept Lincoln’s reelection and their defeat in what they disinformationally chose to call the War of Northern Aggression, one of their number—an actor from the slaveholding Union state of Maryland—assassinated the president a few weeks after his second inauguration.

As in the 19th century, our conflict today is geographic as well, although the regions aren’t contiguous. The Democrat blue states hug the coasts and the upper Midwest, while the Trump supporters in MAGA country occupy the vast middle. Should it come to a peaceful dissolution of the American Republic—a once crazy idea now being discussed openly in chatrooms across the country—and its division into two separate nations, there would be no easy way to effect partition.

It would also mean that, in effect, the old Democrat-controlled Confederacy would finally have won the War Between the States that the Republicans Lincoln and Grant thought they had ended at Appomattox.

Like their Confederate forbears, the blue states have sought to nullify the Constitution by rejecting federal authority over such national issues as immigration and narcotics. With “sanctuary cities”—sanctuary not from persecution but from U.S. law—they openly thumb their noses at Washington while endangering their own taxpaying population.

From the start of the Trump administration, they have sought to hound and harass the president. The Democrat-Media Complex, in the late Andrew Breitbart’s famous formulation, fired the first shot when, at 5:19 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2017, The Washington Post announced, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun”—and they haven’t let up since.

The Russian collusion hoax was only the first of several attempted coups, among them the ridiculous spectacle of the Ukrainian impeachment farce.

Latterly, the Democrats and their media buddies have decided to weaponize the near non-existent “crisis” of the CCP virus, which has seen their petty Caligulas and Neros (and, to be fair, some Republicans) enforce lockdowns in defiance of the Constitution and in the hopes of irrevocably destroying the once-booming Trump economy in order to pin the Chinese Communist Party virus on him, so they might run as saviors of the republic in November.

Sound familiar?

Weimar

Which brings us to our third, and ugliest historical lesson, this one occurring on Jan. 30, 1933, in the wake of what turned out to be the last election in Germany for the next 16 years. For it was on that date that Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor.

As the Weimar Republic tottered, the brownshirts of the National Socialist German Workers Party were colliding in the streets with the Red Brigades of the Communists. Both parties were opposed to democracy, to the existing order, and to the aristocrats who continued to rule Germany after the collapse of the Bismarckian order after World War I, emblemized by the portly figure of Paul von Hindenburg, the wartime general-turned-president of the Reich.

The National Socialists won.

It isn’t true that Hitler was unelected. His party, known as the NSDAP, had won the most votes in the elections of 1932 and was the largest party in the Reichstag, or German parliament. The chancellorship was rightly his. But what followed quickly spelled the end of the Republic: on Feb. 1, parliament was dissolved, with new elections scheduled for March 5; 27 days later, the Reichstag building itself was badly damaged by fire, upending German democracy; and a month after that, the Enabling Act of March 24 was passed, effectively making Hitler—like Caesar—dictator for life.

The chances of either Trump or Biden becoming dictators are admittedly low. Orderly, constitutional succession has been the rule since the founding. But we are in uncharted territory now. Twenty years ago, no one would have taken seriously the notion that a defeated president would refuse to leave office—but Hillary Clinton floated that very notion about Trump just the other day.

Still, far more worrying is the prospect of indefinite one-party rule should the Democrats win it all in November. Already, they’re agitating for a mail-in election—a clear invitation to fraud.

Their shock troops still roam the streets freely, unmolested by the demoralized police forces of our major cities. We’ve already seen shows of force at the polls, as in Philadelphia in 2008, when the New Black Panther Party openly intimidated voters trying to exercise their franchise. If they win in the fall, they don’t plan to lose another national election for a very long time.

If you thought “ballot harvesting” was bad in California two years ago, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Another sign of their intentions is the attempt to end-run the Electoral College via the blatantly unconstitutional National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would award all of a state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of how the state voted. Thus far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have already signed on, giving the motion 73 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed for ratification.

And then it would be up to the Supreme Court—and who knows how Chief Justice John Roberts would rule?

To sum up: Nearly a half-century of civil wars destroyed the Roman Republic. Parliamentary shenanigans and brute force atomized the Weimar Republic. And the American republic survived by the skin of its teeth in 1865. To say it can’t happen here would be ahistorical and counter-factual.

As Niccolò Machiavelli, put it in his “Discourses on the First Decade of Livy”:

“Prudent men are wont to say—and this not rashly or without good ground—that he who would foresee what has to be should reflect on what has been, for everything that happens in the world at any time has a genuine resemblance to what happened in ancient times.”

No wonder the left has taken history out of the classrooms. But that’s no reason we shouldn’t heed it.

Michael Walsh is the editor of The-Pipeline.org and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, will be published in December by St. Martin’s Press. Follow him on Twitter @dkahanerules.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.