The fall of Rome? Really?

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Recently Rep. Jim Clyburne (D-SC) claimed that Sen. Joe Machin’s refusal to scuttle the filibuster and sign off on HR-1, which would federalize elections and make voter fraud easier than ever, was a direct attack on our democracy and akin to the process that led to the fall of Rome.

For this seemingly erudite comparison, he was lauded by the media suck-ups for providing proper historical context to the perfidy of Manchin’s malign actions.

I know our schools don’t really teach history anymore, but now I have solid proof of it!

What Manchin did was precisely the opposite of what led to the fall of Rome, inasmuch as it came about through political disintegration. By refusing to tear down a long-established mechanism in the Senate (the filibuster has been around for 200 years) to ensure a check against mob rule and the tyranny of the majority, Machin was preserving the fundamental principle of the checks and balances established by our constitution and subsequent parliamentary procedure.

Until November of 2020, in fact, Democrats were very passionate defenders of the filibuster. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) from Illinois said in 2018, when Republicans still controlled the Senate and House, “I can tell you that [ending the filibuster] would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers. We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.”

In fact, the filibuster was used in ancient Rome by Cato the Younger to resist the power grabs of Julius Caesar, who succeeded in transforming the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire by weakening the power of the Roman senate and instituting the permanent dictatorial powers of the emperor. This usurpation of one of the key founding principles of the Roman Republic not only ushered in the death of republican governance, which had lasted for nearly 500 years, but also put in place the forces that ultimately led to Rome’s fall 400 years later.

You see, Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor did it fall in a week. It took centuries and a multiplicity of forces to finally end the nearly one-thousand year reign of this most powerful ancient city state. One of the main forces of that demise was the gradual dismantlement of the foundational principles of republican government, up to and including the filibuster.

And indeed, the imperial forces in Rome continued their efforts to weaken the senate by gradually removing the various procedures, precedents, and mechanisms that made Rome great in the first place.

This was combined with a gradual and continuing decadence of Roman society, which after becoming rich and powerful, slowly sank into greater and greater moral depravity. The great virtues of sacrifice, family, and hard work were replaced by selfishness, pleasure seeking, and laziness.

Although Rome’s fall was precipitated to an extent by barbarian invasions and attacks, she had always faced such threats and in the past was able to fend them off. But as the structures of the state and society were weakened by corruption, it could no longer defend itself and did eventually, after many centuries, whither away.

Which party seems to be bringing about such decline in our own country? The one which wants to trash the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court, weaken election integrity, banish the electoral college, limit if not eliminate certain constitutional rights, and generally accrue ever more power to the federal government?

Or the party which seeks to affirm constitutional and traditional governmental principles, restrict government power, embolden personal liberty, and ensure the constitutionality of new legislative initiatives?

The latter, of course, are the Republicans, and they are now joined by one single Democrat who sees the stormy waters of true democratic chaos on the other side of the various proposals put forth by the Biden administration and the congressional Democrats, even though they won power over the executive and legislative branches with thin majorities and little to no mandate for the kind of massive changes they are seeking to impose on this country.

So no, Rep. Clyburne, Sen. Manchin is not ushering in the fall of the American Republic as did the corrupt politicians of latter centuries of the Roman Empire. He is in fact holding back, single-handedly, the kind of chaos and destruction that will surely be upon us if our country ceases to uphold its hallowed traditions of representative, limited government with checks and balances to preserve the rights and interests of political minorities.

The Democrats seemed to embrace this idea when they were in the minority. Their sudden and vicious turn against those same notions now that they have a bare majority speaks to the depravity and shamelessness of both their character and their policies.

Yes, yes I know many readers will be saying, “But Trump!” Sure, he said many foolish things and encouraged many foolish things, but his more extreme antics were not supported by the Republican Party in general, and his more prosaic challenges to constitutional norms were rightly and properly curtailed by the judicial branch.

The Democrats, on the other hand, seem strangely and sadly united in their desire to dismantle various impediments to the tyranny of the majority because they know they only have a small window of opportunity to put our country in a chokehold of progressive wokeism, one which was created by the blowback to Trump’s personal excesses (not his policies), not by popular support for Democratic policies.

Alas, all would be relatively well if both sides just played by the same rules and agreed that whatever resulted would be accepted. But that unifying conceit has been thrown out the window and now we indeed do face the fall of our own dear republic unless we can resist the firestorm of Democratic attacks. Isn’t it ironic that that resistance now comes from one of the Democrat’s own?

I pray for Joe Manchin and hope he can withstand the slings and arrows, the angry condemnations and personal attacks by his own party members. He is a man who is willing to sacrifice, like the noble Romans of old, in order to defend a country he loves while those who hate it seek its destruction.

Trey Hoffman

Peachtree City, Ga.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I will be honest, I don’t know a lot about the fall of Rome, and I didn’t understand the point of what Trey was saying in this letter except the usual, “The sky is falling, and it’s the Democrats’ fault.” However, I did come across this line from St. Augustine’s “The City of God,” a line which comes from a chapter about the fall of Rome as it happens.

    Back in the day, Augustine says … “A people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.” He goes on to lament how the Roman people “declined into sanguinary seditions and then to social and civil wars, and so burst asunder or rotted off the bond of concord in which the health of a people consists…”

    I think maybe THIS is what Trey is talking about … or SHOULD be talking about: a great number of our citizenry have rejected the common objects of our love (life, liberty, justice for all), declined into sedition (January 6), are calling for social and civil wars to protect/preserve white Christian America, and this has burst asunder the bond of concord (agreement or harmony between people or groups) in America. Perhaps the solution isn’t to oust the Democrats, but to soothe the frightened MAGA’s and bring them back into fellowship?

    I could be wrong, of course, but this makes more sense to me than whatever Trey was trying to say here. Maybe his next letter will elucidate us further. In the meantime, I will cool my giant clown heels, wait, and see.

    • Visionaryjax–
      Thank you for this!

      I read Mr. Hoffmann’s letter several times and frankly just pictured the ancient doom-sayers–“Woe! Woe!! and Thrice
      Woe!”

      He occasionally concludes with the heart-felt, “God Help Us All”.
      The note of desperation breaks my heart.

      However, your message of hope resonates with me.
      I think we share an unshaken confidence that Love wins.
      That The Peaceable Kingdom will be established.
      And that clown shoes are cool!

  2. Concerned about the tyranny of mob rule, our mental Munchkin offers up his weekly aggrievement. Mr. Hoffman devotes 18 paragraphs to the defense of a Senate procedure that is nowhere to be found in the U.S. Constitution. He then offers a single paragraph exonerating the 45th president who actually fomented an angry mob assault upon the legislative branch. It’s good to see that his gnat strainer is fully operative.

    • “… but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them…. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to PEACEFULLY and PATRIOTICALLY make your voices heard.” – President Donald J Trump ‘fomenting an angry mob’, 6 Jan 2001

      One day you’ll be capable of being truthful instead of just regurgitating what you’ve been told to think.

      • In that same “speech” here is what orange leader also had to say:

        ‘We won this election, and we won it by a landslide’ – PATENTLY FALSE He lost the popular vote in two elections btw. By a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like millions of votes a lot.

        ‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’ – Kinda sounds like incitement.

        “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules;”
        “You’ll never take back our country with weakness.” – I wonder how the Qanon people might interpret this??

        You know damn well his loudest and also dumbest supporters (Qanon and the white supremacy folks) are going to read into his world salad and take it to the extreme. And either Trump (the man with the self proclaimed “very very large brain”) knew this possibility and egged it on. Or he was completely oblivious to this outcome which is pretty pathetic for such a “brilliant” man.

        But yeah let’s keep making excuses for a reality star megalomaniac who will literally say anything to get what he wants.

        Also here is the transcript from that day, free sticker to anyone who can get through this without rolling their eyes to the back of their head on npr.org.

        • In that same “speech” here is what orange leader also had to say:

          ‘We won this election, and we won it by a landslide’ – PATENTLY FALSE He lost the popular vote in two elections btw. By a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like millions of votes a lot.

          ‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’ – Kinda sounds like incitement.

          “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules;”
          “You’ll never take back our country with weakness.” – I wonder how the Qanon people might interpret this??

          You know damn well his loudest and also dumbest supporters (Qanon and the white supremacy folks) are going to read into his world salad and take it to the extreme. And either Trump (the man with the self proclaimed “very very large brain”) knew this possibility and egged it on. Or he was completely oblivious to this outcome which is pretty pathetic for such a “brilliant” man.

          But yeah let’s keep making excuses for a reality star megalomaniac who will literally say anything to get what he wants.

          Also here is the transcript from that day, free sticker to anyone who can get through this without rolling their eyes to the back of their head:

          npr.org/2021/02/10/966396848/read-trumps-jan-6-speech-a-key-part-of-impeachment-trial

      • C’mon PT, those lines you quoted was about 17 minutes into a much winded 75 minute long speech. Near the end of the speech and almost an hour later while wrapping things up, he encouraged the crowd, “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

        Yep, lots of time for things to foment. PT, you should go back and listen to the “entire” speech (or read the transcript), especially if you didn’t listen to it or watch it live the first time.

        • The how about these lines from the very end of the speech: “But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

          Perhaps you need to take your own advice and read the actual speech instead of obediently swallowing the news media narrative. Aren’t you tired of being suckered by for-profit corporate media only to later find out that they botched the facts to maximize ratings?

          • PT, on Jan 6 I watched and listened to the entire speech “live” on the very cable news channel that was covering it live. Throughout “all” the speeches, I was told how the election was rigged and then stolen and basically we need to fight like hell to get our country back. Then I switched channels and sure enough, they’re storming the Capitol and indeed fighting like anarchists to stop the certification of a US election.

          • Oooooh, no you didn’t. None of the cable news channels carried the event in its entirety. Even Fox only briefly cut in and out for remarks. And they cut out during President Trump’s speech to editorialize about what he was saying. You would have had to have downed a bottle of pepto and streamed that wretched OAN in order to watch “throughout all the speeches.”

  3. I’ve got my coffee. I’ve got a bowl of popcorn. I’m just waiting now for the usual crowd to show up and scream hysterically at the sky about how awful and stupid Trey Hoffman is, without actually having an iota of honest intellectual criticism about anything he wrote. At least one of them will actually write something that inadvertently agrees with Hoffman, while claiming to disagree with him.

    Let the games begin!

    • PTCitizen–
      Personally, I enjoy these exchanges of diverse opinions.

      I hope my own have never been considered hysterical screaming at the sky. And while I do view some of Mr. Hoffman’s statements as “awful” and even appalling, I hope I have never labeled him
      “stupid”.

      You, on the other hand, seem to have transformed belittling into an art form.
      The family discussions around your dining table must be blood-
      baths.

    • Wow, PTCit, I have to agree with Suz — I don’t think any of us have ever called Trey awful or stupid. You must be projecting upon us your own tendency to insult and belittle others. As I mentioned to one of the responders to the LGBTQ letter the other day, sometimes we hate in others what we see in ourselves.