The similarities between Gaius Julius Caesar and Donald Trump are remarkable.
Julius Caesar wanted to “make Rome great again.”
Julius was born into money (which if you weren’t in ancient Rome you were nothing more than fodder). In ancient Rome, there was little difference between money and actual politics; Trump’s family stayed clear of politics for the most part, until Donald came along.
In any case, Julius ascended to the Roman Senate by virtue of leading troops in war and public acts of bravery. He ran for consul (sort of like a hyper-mayor), and survived a dirty campaign. He survived by making good deals and taking populist positions (like giving public land to the poor).
It didn’t end well for poor Julius, who was assassinated after the Senate plied him with honors and flattery. Then they claimed Julius was leading a cult of his own personality, with Marc Antony as his high priest. Then they killed him.
The Roman Republic died with Julius, and his successor, Augustus Caesar, was the first real emperor. Ironically, Augustus ushered in Rome’s “golden age” of Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome (through military means, mostly).
The key to Julius was his populist bent and need for public adoration. He placed this above the need for Rome to maintain a democracy, or for the messy defects that go along with principled citizen rule. He only wanted to make great deals, conquer Gaul (who was eating Rome’s lunch before Julius), and bed Cleopatra because she was a beautiful Nubian.
Men do not change much in 2,000 years. Human nature and DNA haven’t really altered the human race to the point where basic drives, ego and self-fulfillment are fundamentally different for Donald than they were for Julius.
The public’s drive for bread and circuses (which would come much later for Rome) was also about the same as it is today. The populist shift which elevated Julius Caesar is really comparable to the one elevating Donald Trump in many ways.
However, one thing is different. Technology has made the world much smaller today than it was in Caesar’s day. News and time pass much faster and people’s wishes are fulfilled or denied in much less than a month, a year, or a decade. Julius Caesar transformed Rome in his lifetime from a Republic to an Empire. Donald Trump might do it in four years, should he be elected.
I’ve written before that I thought Donald Trump was a Constitutionalist. I believe at his core he is, but he doesn’t understand enough about what it takes to preserve the document he believes in. He wants to make America great, and understands what it takes to make Donald Trump great, but those two goals are mutually incompatible.
Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the fruit of our soft, populist, gimme-now culture that produced Barack Obama (a very angry man), will lead to the same results as happened in Rome. Should the unthinkable happen and we end up with President Trump, get ready for Pax Trumpanius.