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The US at a Crossroad. Will it Cross its Rubicon, or Choose Democracy?

Caesar did not achieve his goal of killing the Roman Republic, but he unleashed a civil war. Could it be that the US may be going through similar growing pains?

Attack on Capitol Hill. January 6, 2021. (Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve known for a long time that our nation is, and has been, divided in two camps. One that protects its liberal democratic republic, and the other, at various times denominated “All-American,” “extreme right conservative” and even “White supremacist,” that is discontented and is inclined to see a differently managed country.

With the advent of the failed attempt to take over the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the schism in these two ideologies became crystal-clear to the point that it will be difficult to reconcile them anytime soon. After the tumultuous violent event, there was a peaceful transfer of power after all. This promises good tidings. But what will happen to the disgruntled faction of American citizens who represent 50% of the voting population?

Whatever we choose to do, the fact seems irreversible that a faction is willing to take violent action to have its ideology prevail. A crucial question is: What is more important, our Constitution, written hundreds of years ago, or the will of living American citizens who think they represent today’s realities? We all need to take seriously this now disenchanted faction, even as the other is equally determined to preserve its liberal democratic republic. A wise US President of the past instilled in us the belief that a “house divided will not stand” for long. If this is true, then nobody can tell what will happen in the near future.

Our current dilemma, the co-existence of two opposing powers, in some aspects compels us to make an analogy to ancient Roman history and Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar. Photo: Wikimedia

He crossed the small river that became forever famous, the Rubicon, disobeying the Roman Senate that decreed that no army could enter the city of Rome. We all know the story: Julius Caesar entered Rome and took over the city. But as soon as the senatorial faction that favored the preservation of the republic could, they assassinated him, as Shakespeare graphically shows us in his dramatic play.

Like the January 6th attempt in Washington, Caesar did not succeed in his goals, since he was killed, but what followed was a civil war and the result of it was that Rome abandoned the Republican system to become an Empire. We cannot say the same for Washington D.C. However, could it be that Washington may be going through similar growing pains because it needs a change? The American situation need not follow this script. At the same time, its citizens should not forget that the January 6th events of this year could be the preamble to new and more successful attempts to change things to their liking.

It is important to remind ourselves of the real US status presently. De jure, the US is a democratic republic. De facto, it is an empire without an emperor. It does not have provinces, as the Romans did. It has however, many satellite and friendly nations under its control or sway.

Many of us rushed to defend our constitution and our democracy. Without any doubt this was the best act to save our democratic institutions. But forms of governments do not stand still, as Aristotle told us a long time ago. Even governments, through time, will change. Our responsibility as Americans will be to make sure that if there is any need for change, that it be for the better.



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