SPQA: The Senate and People of America
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Politics and Activism

SPQA: The Senate and People of America

How our current political climate mirrors the Roman Empire

SPQA: The Senate and People of America

Some of you may know the common phrase carved into the architecture around the city of Rome: Sentaus PopulusQue Romanus (SPQR). Translated into English, it means “The Senate and People of Rome,” signifying those who were in power during the most dynamic empire the world has ever known. In Rome, the Senate worked to regularly inform the people that they held just as much power as the Senators themselves. This, however, was little more than wishful thinking. In truth, the Caesar and the Senate took actions on a regular basis that left the people of Rome worse off as the wealthy profited. Sound familiar?

The American governing body took much of its influence from Rome and Athens, both positive and negative. There are many significant differences as well, though, in that Caesars were closer to dictators than Presidents. America created a system of checks and balances and appointed our officials through elections, much like the Senators of Rome. Both empires had three branches of government in the form of legislative, executive, and judicial.

One area where Rome and the United States are very similar is in the judicial branch of government. We have retained much of the Ancient Roman language within our own court system. For example, both Ancient Rome and the United States require a writ of habeas corpus, meaning “you may have the body,” which summons an accused individual to a court of law. Both Rome and America require a trial by jury and practice the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” There were times in Roman History where this branch of government was undermined. One instance was the Catiline Conspiracy when Marcus Tullius Cicero executed supporters of Lucius Sergius Catilina without a formal trial. This was met with widespread disdain from Roman Senators and commonfolk alike.

Just like Rome, much of the general public does not approve of the politics that govern their daily lives. A great deal of Rome’s debt came from funding large numbers of poor and unemployed, but for every dollar that went to the poor, one also went to the rich. This was compounded by the centuries of Roman rule and eventually resulted in the empire’s economic collapse.

One of the greatest tools that the Roman Empire used at its peak to keep the public distracted and happy were the gladiatorial battles in the colosseum. Two slaves, pitted against one another, in a struggle for survival. Sure, we in America don’t watch people kill one another for entertainment, but the massive sporting industry in the country serves an identical purpose as the colosseum. The more distracted you keep the public, the less they are to look at the government that is undermining them.

Rome saw centuries of rising debt that built up over time and brought the empire to its knees. During the collapse of Rome, the wealthy elites fled to neighboring territories for fear of the public mob. As we take a step back and analyze our political climate, it becomes more apparent that our country is mirroring the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. A volatile political climate, an ever-expanding debt that will never be paid off, and a massive military sitting idle.

It is now our choice to decide whether we will learn from history or whether we are doomed to repeat it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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