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Lessons in the Decline of Democracy From the Ruined Roman Republic Historian

Discussion in 'OBOB General Politics Forum' started by Michie, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Historian Edward Watts argues that violent rhetoric and disregard for political norms was the beginning of Rome’s end.

    The U.S. Constitution owes a huge debt to ancient Rome. The Founding Fathers were well-versed in Greek and Roman History. Leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison read the historian Polybius, who laid out one of the clearest descriptions of the Roman Republic’s constitution, where representatives of various factions and social classes checked the power of the elites and the power of the mob. It’s not surprising that in the United States’ nascent years, comparisons to ancient Rome were common. And to this day, Rome, whose 482-year-long Republic, bookended by several hundred years of monarchy and 1,500 years of imperial rule, is still the longest the world has seen.

    Aspects of our modern politics reminded University of California San Diego historian Edward Watts of the last century of the Roman Republic, roughly 130 B.C. to 27 B.C. That’s why he took a fresh look at the period in his 2018 book Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny. Watts chronicles the ways the republic, with a population once devoted to national service and personal honor, was torn to shreds by growing wealth inequality, partisan gridlock, political violence and pandering politicians, and argues that the people of Rome chose to let their democracy die by not protecting their political institutions, eventually turning to the perceived stability of an emperor instead of facing the continued violence of an unstable and degraded republic. Political messaging during the 2018 midterm elections hinged on many of these exact topics.

    Though he does not directly compare and contrast Rome with the United States, Watts says that what took place in Rome is a lesson for all modern republics. “Above all else, the Roman Republic teaches the citizens of its modern descendants the incredible dangers that come along with condoning political obstruction and courting political violence,” he writes. “Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors, their republic is in mortal danger.”

    Continued below.
    Lessons in the Decline of Democracy From the Ruined Roman Republic | History | Smithsonian Magazine
     
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  2. Archivist

    Archivist Senior Veteran Supporter

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    That's one reason why one of the early statutes of George Washington depicted him in Roman garb as if he were at the Roman bath. It was on display in the Capitol for many years.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    I never knew that!
     
  4. Archivist

    Archivist Senior Veteran Supporter

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    If you want to see it, the statue is now on display in the Smithsonian's
    National Museum of American History.
     
  5. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Thank you! :)
     
  6. RushMAN

    RushMAN Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Very sobering
     
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