Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Republics Always Devolve Into Dictatorships, Except When They Don't

Mrs Vache Folle got me the DVD set of "I, Claudius" for my birthday, and I watched the whole thing already. I also watched the first season of "Rome" again and started reading both Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" and Suetonius's "Twelve Emperors". My bathroom book is Meacham's bio of Andrew Jackson "American Lion".

Is it just me or do the deaths of the Roman and American republics look a lot alike? In each case, a strong executive harnessed the popular will and overrode the institutions set up as checks and balances. A bonus question: Were the Praetorian Guard and the Legions better at selecting the executive than the American electorate (setting aside Caligula and GW Bush)?

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