Yesterday I reviewed the documentary film, Client 9. Today I reflect, albeit much more briefly, on the problem of politics and governance in our nation.
I recently saw a series of historical films on the Roman Empire. I became interested in Rome as a result of my visit to the city in March of this year. From the rise of Julius Casear (d. March 15, 44 B.C.) until approximately the end of the first century AD Rome experienced the height of its power in the world. After assuming control of government, Julius Caesar began extensive reforms of Roman society and government. He centralized the bureaucracy and was eventually proclaimed "dictator in perpetuity.” This was his undoing and led to his murder within the Roman senate. (Things have improved in modern governments!) The empire, from the time of Caesar, was affluent, culturally alive and expansive. Power and pleasure mixed together in profound ways. There are parallels to our present time but I think most of them are quite ludicrous in the end. America is so unlike Rome that comparisons are fraught with serious questions and over-simplifications. Yet gloom-and-doom prophets repeatedly make comparisons between us and Rome.
Do not misunderstand me. I think our public and civic virtue is headed in the direction of the moral tank very fast. I said yesterday that it is difficult to believe that political parties, or the political process of the present time, can solve anything that truly threatens us as a people. The sheer arrogance of those in power, on every side, is striking to me. The most astounding arrogance, to my mind, comes from Christians who believe they can capture government’s power and use it wisely to save the nation for God and truth.
This all reminds me of a statement made by Tiberius Caesar, anything but a great leader himself. Said Tiberius: “Governing Rome could be like holding a wolf by the ears!” It seems that Tiberius spoke the truth much more than he may have known. The point is that governing the United States seems to share Tiberius’ insight. I do not envy those who attempt to govern our nation. I do pray for them. And I have almost no confidence in those who tell me they can and will clean things up if we just elect them. I am looking for far more modest claims these days. If those claims are wrapped in the flag, God and the Bible I am running away as fast as possible. Man do I miss politicians like Mark Hatfield, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Gerald Ford. They disagreed with one another but you could at least believe them when they spoke. I always believed they truly sought the best interest of the people in their own unique way. Maybe I am pining for the past a bit but the present is politically depressing to me.