When Cicero wrote De re publica, few imagined the course that the Roman Republic would face. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC, and the power struggle and aftermath of his death destroyed the Senate, and created the Roman Empire. Cicero himself was killed by Mark Antony, with his hands and head cut off and displayed in the Forum, labeled as an enemy of the state. Cicero was the most vehement protector of the Roman tradition, of the fragile democracy the Romans had managed to cultivate over the course of centuries. Yet in the end, he died a violent death on a roadside, and his dream of a continual Roman Republic was lost to the ages. Cicero was one of the first to understand the fact that there are natural laws, laws not beholden to state, base human moralities, such as personal property, and the right to produce offspring. The evil treat this with indifference, narcissistically believing that their solutions will raise them to greatness. Tyranny contradicts itself at the most basic level because of the fact that humans are inherently curious, rebellious, and self-righteous. Even if Cicero did not die that day centuries ago, the Roman Republic would have collapsed because of greed, overexpansion, and tyranny. The people were not able to effectively counteract the tyranny of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, because they lacked a formal structure to preserve their liberties. The people, convinced of their might, with a Republic stretching from Hispania to Anatolia, allowed themselves to be overcome by evil. The greatest enemy to democracy is the basic human nature, the delicate balance of greed versus charity, of narcissism versus self-sacrifice. Ironically, the restriction of some of our rights are necessary to preserve the entire whole. Self-interest is satiated with representation in government, and in turn the Constitution and checks and balances limit their darker impulses. A Mare Nostrum, a Third Reich, these vast empires are not manageable because they are too large to be managed by a single power, due to the inherent fallibility of man. People yearn to be able to be free, to express themselves, and associate with others, and this naturally formulates dissent against the tyranny of the minority. The act of rebelling against established powers is a practice as natural as any other. The most effective way to govern, to maintain a just and prosperous society is to channel these base feelings, these temptations, doubts, and passions, into battle against their contraries, in a democratic fashion in a way that allows us to retain our base liberties, which results in satisfactory and effective governance.
The concept of liberty is something that has existed since time immemorial. Since we began to organize ourselves as a people, there have always been those who seek to control, and those who seek to stretch the boundaries of established order. While many have certainly tried, liberty is a force upon itself that cannot be extinguished by any individual or organization. What is certain is that there is not a topic that has more widely debated than liberty itself. Gun control, voting rights, every issue that can possibly be conceived of that are thought of during an election period is some subset of the issue of liberty. The responsibility of government, beyond just providing domestic stability, is to represent the needs of the people. The great debate is, of course, how much should government attend to the needs of the people? Should government seek to collectivize and distribute resources equally, or should government encourage people to develop and allocate these resources individually? Should the government be dictated by what they can do, or what they can’t do? These are the questions that are essential to the function of not just every society, but to the organization of our existence. These are not easy questions, nor should they be, as the fate of our institutions hinge upon our every answer. However, what has become apparent has been the disregard that many elected officials feel for the Constitution, how they ignore our freedoms, and how they use their position of influence for personal gain over popular. The United States Government reeks of corporatism and avarice, beholden only before the eyes of profit. Our government functions best when it governs towards the advantage of the lowest in our society, the downtrodden and hungry who work long hours for lower wages, their power diminished simply because of their economic status. The greatest and most humane feat we can accomplish as a society is to expand and stabilize a prosperous, hard-working middle class, yet for years our government has only sought to do what is best for those who already have enough, who’s greed for power and wealth is unlimited. My goal is not to destroy the wealthy, the very nature of capitalism itself dictates that there will always be those who have more, and those who have less. What we can do is limit this distinction, enabling upward mobility while not burning the laurels of those who have had the fortune to make it. Our government has for too long worked for the wealthy minority, and destroyed the programs and institutions that made America great.
The people, by affording some of their rights to the government, have given their government rights that allow for extreme effectiveness. No greater control may be exerted by any government in totalitarian societies, where the people give the government the vast majority of the rights that many have come to hold dear in exchange for their belief that their government will give them safety and prosperity. They cede their rights out of concern for not just for their safety, but for the safety of their family, and their belief in a greater, more collective good than what a republic can afford them. This pains most who have the great fortune to see this from a later or an outside perspective, however this cession of rights is understandable to most who have experienced this particular nature of desperation. Historically, no totalitarian society has emerged from prosperity and stability, and no demagogue has emerged from a society where the rule of law is enforced, and the people feel secure in their rights and abilities. The Third Reich was created from the chaos and economic despair of the Weimar Republic, and the USSR rose from the ashes of the corrupt Tsarist regime. However, this control that is exercised by the leaders of any totalitarian society comes at a price, namely poverty, war, starvation, and ultimate revolution, nonviolent or otherwise. No one man or oligarchic body can exert complete control over any population for any length of time, as it is not just the ability, but the right of any people to depose any government that they deem unfit, and not allowing them the rights that they are endowed with. Alternatively, no government can succeed when it is not given enough power to help the people that they serve. No government should survive that does not perform some utility for the people, and ideally a government should be given the tools it needs to function properly, in order to best serve the people. So the debate does not occur between anarchism vs totalitarianism, but rather statism vs libertarianism, and social democracy vs conservatism. The greatest societies throughout history did not operate in extremes, but rather degrees of moderation. Good governments change to accommodate the needs of the populace, immediate and long-term. Any government that is incapable of adaptation, of changing to meet the needs of the people, does not deserve to exist.
The efficacy and power that a government can wield is irrefutable, yet the debate comes from whether the government wields this power for good, or for evil. There is no force more powerful than the people, and in a just republic we choose to extend our support for those that we see as the most fit to govern. There will always be disagreements, and in a just society civil disagreements should be welcome, because debate and discussion allow us to further shape our ideas. However, the legacy of a ruler is not shaped by the margin in which they were elected, but rather what that ruler did when they were in office. The advantage that the republic wields is that the rulers that are unfit for office can be removed in the next election cycle. Some argue that any politician that displeases the public should be immediately removed from office, however this would lead to chaos, and to a lack of consistent governance.