Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues


          Nixon tried but failed. It was scary but he really didn’t even come close. We deemed it impossible anyway; we said it couldn’t happen here.

          But it has. Don’s not quite an emperor but he’s a tyrant. And please don’t say he isn’t. Look at everything he’s done, from start to finish, in less than four years. Say you like his tyranny, at least that would be honest, but don’t say he isn’t one. All he needs is just a little more time to put in on ice. Witness, adding to his already-long list of intrusions, the politicization of pardons and sentence commutations.

          He may be re-elected; he may not. But for now he’s here and he’s the proverbial bull in a china shop. He’s hardly the first in history, given there’s been lots of them, you know, back when men were men and life was cheap–i.e., men were chronic dogs of war and, yes, life wasn’t worth a sou.

          My mantra is that I love dead poets, as well as dead philosophers and playwrights. I think they got it right the first time. Check it out. But before we say that all old days were bad ones, we can bypass a lot of prior history only to find that we’re not all that different. Rome’s republic goes way back but change the suits and human nature was not all that different. The Republic was complicated and clumsy, and so is ours. Our democracy is downright messy: check the news any day.

          Rome got their system of government from Aristotle, including separation of powers, like we have, except that legislation started in their senate (same root as we get “senile,” i.e., the old pharts of the aristocracy) not the Assembly of average men which is more like our House of Reps. It worked well, then fell apart when Julius Caesar went for the brass ring and got stabbed in the rotunda, which had to hurt. But his adopted son took over, avenged ol’ dad and was really a Caesar for whom the senate was reduced to a bunch of suck-ups. Sound familiar?

          That first real emperor, Augustus, also introduced the Pax Romana, a long period of peace and low taxes—which, as you know, doesn’t sound familiar. And things went swimmingly, till they didn’t. For the next several hundred years there were good emperors and bad ones. Some of the worst you may not recognize by name, but you may Nero, Domitian and Diocletian, et a. All were in some way vile, vicious, murderous and/or perverted. The weakness in that system was that people often inherited that role; and when an emperor didn’t have a viable son to hand off to, he adopted one—that’s how Octavian became Augustus and followed his dad Julius.

          The people didn’t want bad ones but they got them. We said that couldn’t happen here because there is no divine right of kings or succession by family. And there’s the irony: we elect our leaders, and we elected the one we’ve got. Imagine that. So off and on the Romans had good emperors and every so often bad ones till the Visigoths seized the Empire at a weak moment and the toga party was over.

          Donald is a tyrant and if we can elect one, we can elect another. And another. Not in succession perhaps but, you know, off and on. And they’ll all be elected. So who’s better: the ancient Romans who had knuckleheads foisted on them, or us educated, sophisticated folk who choose our political poison? Go ahead, give me odds.

          The Romans also educated half of the adult male population, a high rate of literacy for the middle and upper classes, largely in the humanities. What, no STEM, you say? Nope, but in what we call the Classics, a tradition that lasted until near the end of the 19th century in Europe and into the early 20th in Britain. They learned about human nature and became world leaders for most of civilized history.

          What we know now are cell phones and all kinds of tech but things are running wild as hackers feed us fake news and tell us who to vote for. For over a hundred years we’ve been building and re-building schools and raising new ones but we’re dumb as posts about life.

          Thank god we’ve got a dictator. He says he’s a stable genius, the “Chosen One” who will do what’s best for us, and tell us what to do as well. It’s Hobbes’ Leviathan all over again.

          In your dreams you said it couldn’t happen here. But the dream became a nightmare. Now it’s time to wake up and do something about it.

Don’t wait for the Visigoths.




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