Joy Connolly: “The Romans Tried to Save the Republic From Men Like Trump. They Failed.”

“Call him Donald Trump. But this man is also Julius Caesar, Catiline, Claudius, and a legion of other men who lived in ancient Rome, from which the American Founders drew inspiration for the political system we have today.”

“How to counter the new speech of the charismatic demagogue by practicing politics that people can identify with is the puzzle that Rome finally failed to solve. After Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE, his heir Octavian could bring Rome to heel and set up a dynastic monarchy that would last nearly four hundred years. Rome’s political class never succeeded in refreshing their own habits of speech and thought. They failed to probe and heal the alienation that had fragmented the republican community. Like today’s self-absorbed elites, they had become addicted to their wealth and to traditional authority, and never imagined their influence could disappear.”