From Caesar to Washington to Trump

The Founding Fathers weren’t only statesmen, they were visionaries.  The work of Constitutional Convention was to establish the fundamental law of an empire of liberty that would rival if not surpass Rome itself.  So they rejected monarchy out of hand.

In the ancient Roman Republic, any man who would make himself king was a traitor who deserved death.  When Julius Caesar finally, and reluctantly, put an end to the Republic, he did not seek to replace it with a monarchy.  He had chosen his successor, Augustus, purely on merit.  Augustus followed suit by choosing Tiberius, who may have been the ablest ruler the Empire ever had.

But both Augustus and Tiberius clung to power too long, and the result was Caligula, and a ruinous century of hereditary succession.  Rome recovered in the age of the Philosopher Kings, (96-180), when Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius became emperors on their merits.  But Antoninus, too, clung to power too long, and allowed his love of his son, Commodus, to overcome his good judgement.  Rome was never truly great again.

The Framers knew all this, and provided for presidential succession by election.  The monarchical tendencies of Hamilton and John Adams were rejected out of hand.

Wittingly or not, President Trump, by leaving after one term, is showing the wisdom of the very best of the Roman emperors.  He has chosen as potential successors two outstanding men, Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo.  If they, in turn, follow his wise example, we could have a prolonged period of outstanding governance.

Donald Trump.  Who knew?

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