I believe that the founders of our country had a measure of genius and most of that came from being keen observers of the past. They were educated men with a grasp of history as well as students of government of states long ago that had passed into the dust bin of history. They also seemed to understand human nature quite well which compelled them to create a system of checks and balances to prevent one faction of government becoming too powerful and tyrannical.
Perhaps the government they studied most was that of ancient Rome.
Rome was a republic before it became an empire. It wasn’t a republic in the same sense the US is supposed to be a republic but it did have republican ideals in an early development form.
For example, the Roman Legions under the Republic (and later under the Empire) carried an Eagle Standard (Aquila). A small model of an eagle sat on top of the standard pole and right under that eagle was a small flag with the letters SPQR. The letters stood for the Senate and People of Rome.
The Roman Republic was under the rule of a plurality of senators. The Romans had a distrust of kings having tossed out the last Etruscan one prior to the formation of the republic. To prevent the military from abuses the legions were controlled by consuls who had term limits and who had to be elected by the senators. It certainly was not a perfect system but it was unique compared to the despotic regimes to the east and barbarian warlords to the west and north of Rome. The uniqueness of the system is why our founders found aspects of it quite attractive.
The Roman Republic died a slow death as powerful individuals (Marius, Sulla, Caesar) backed by the powerful Roman Legions hacked away (usually literally) at its ideals. This was the issue that got Julius Caesar killed. The Roman Senate rightly suspected that Caesar would make himself emperor after he had taken care of his last rival (Pompey) and crossed the Rubicon River essentially daring the Senate to stop him. We remember what followed as the Ides of March and Brutus’ betrayal but at the root was the distrust of one man becoming too popular and too powerful. Hence, Caesar was assassinated.
What followed was another nasty civil war in which Caesar’s nephew Octavius emerged the victor. Octavius became Augustus and the republic was dead forever. Augustus was followed by Tiberius, the infamous Caligula, Claudius and Nero who was the last of Caesar’s line.
While Caesar’s line was extinguished other strong men emerged as the emperor became more and more supreme and the senate less and less important often serving as a mere rubber stamp for the emperor. The emperor had a Praetorian Guard while the Senate did not so to disagree with the emperor was to risk one’s life and property.
The founders of our republic knew all this and much more. They knew the temptation of power and they knew what tyranny looked like. They took great pains to mitigate human nature and lessen the risk of one faction of government dominating all the rest. The chief executive, the President, was to be a President and not a king and his power was to be limited by a congress while a watchful Supreme Court was to make sure the Constitution was the law of the land rather than a edict from a strong man.
While the system was not perfect it worked well enough until fairly recently when an unscrupulous cabal of progressives under President Obama sought to undermine the balance of power by over using executive orders.
The latest outrage is the hiring of John Podesta as counselor to President Obama. Politico puts it this way:
It also signals a more aggressive focus by the White House on using executive authority to circumvent Congress in the final three years of the administration.
The vehicle used to circumvent the check and balance of Congress (House and Senate) is executive authority. In other words, if the President says it, then it will be done. It’s Podesta’s job to counsel Obama and use that power.The rational put out to the American people will be, it will end the grid lock of a do nothing Congress. It’s a knock against the Republican House that wrestled control of the house from the Democrats in 2010 as Obamacare was roundly rejected. Podesta’s focus will be ramming that deeply flawed entitlement down the people’s throats come hell or high water.
In other words, Podesta is the power behind the throne (and the IRS and FBI could very well turn out to be the Praetorian Guard and used as enforcers. We’ve already seen glimpses of that!
It’s a naked power grab on top of any number naked power grabs by this administration. Why there hasn’t been more of an outcry in the House and Senate suggests that the majority are complicit in the undoing of our republic. Harry Reid, strong man in the Senate would be chief among the conspirators.
The people, by and large, seem largely ignorant or indifferent as to how our government is supposed to work. The Founders were not afraid of gridlock. They were afraid of power grabs and gridlock prevented that!
I suppose as long as the Bread and Circuses (entitlements) continue the majority will slumber through it all being more concerned about their free iPhones that their loss of liberty.
Abraham Lincoln in the midst of a bloody civil war said this in the Gettysburg Address: Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
It is perishing folks. It’s why I’m Tea Party.