The Caligula Presidency – and its Long Term Effects on the “Imperial Presidency” Trend

If Trump’s latest tweets really do indicate a lack of connection to reality, maybe the right way to think of him as the “Caligula President.”

Lovers of Robert Graves “I Claudius” and its BBC/PBS derivative (great write up here) still remember John Hurt’s brilliant depiction of Caligula as in “People really are despicable,” followed by immediate evil scheming.

But you had a world leader on the edge of disconnection yet functional and brilliantly intuitive enough to get and hang onto power.

Remember, however, that Caligula was followed by Claudius (whose big advisor was Herod), who then tried to “Re-Republicanise” Rome, obviously to no great success, but at laest had some effect in de-imperializing the imperial Imperium.

Seriously, regardless of how the detail works out in the short term, a Trump presidency is almost bound to cause advocates of a muscular presidency to have second thoughts, and those who have supported a system of checks and balances to be newly re-energized.  That should be true on both sides of the aisle, but it will take time to play out.

It is worth noting that as the world becomes more multi-polar, the need for centralized power will become less, and the need for international legitimacy greater.

Its always darkest before the storm. — oh sorry, dawn.

Till then, enjoy Claudius.

 

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