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Rescuing America: Where Is Today’s Cicero?

The Roman Republic had it’s defender in Cicero. They called him pater patriae (Father of his Country) for his faithful defense of the Roman Republic.

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Cicero watched a politician (Catiline) attempt to overthrow the Republic. Cicero watched him carefully. He thwarted his plans, repeatedly. He catalogued and produced evidence of his crimes, and then, publicly accused Catiline.

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Cicero — among history’s greatest orators — has his defense of the Republic by the denunciation of Catiline counted among his greatest works. The greatest orator of his generation turned all his skill to the defense of the public (not private!) interest.

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Cicero, when confronting him in the Senate, blushed at having waited so long to confront him. He blushed that he lived in an age where men plotting murder and treason were not killed where they stood, as traitors in an earlier age had been. He blushed that the Senate he was part of knew this man’s deeds, yet turned a blind eye to them, allowing him to even take part in public deliberations.

He blushed that the Senate, despite the authority they had over such a man and full knowledge of his deeds — not only let him live, but allowed his audacity to grow. Cicero accused himself of “remissness and culpable inactivity” for not acting sooner to crush the rebellion Catiline was fomenting, or the army he was amassing.

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Cicero knew this man, Catiline, was deserving of death. He had plotted to kill Senators, even Cicero himself. But calling for one man’s death was not ultimately in the best interest of the Republic. Catiline was not acting alone, and the others would remain, as an ongoing internal threat.

Cicero wanted Catiline banished. Catiline failed twice to be elected through traditional means (including substantial bribery from financial backers, Crassus and Julius Caesar). He lost the vote to Cicero. That’s why Catiline attempted a coup d’etat, which was also doomed to failure when it became exposed.

When the Roman Republic’s old ways — and very way of life — were being threatened, Cicero stood to defend them. He stood firm against the would-be tyrant.

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Cicero looked him in the eye, and laid bare his character and conduct, as well as his associates whom he colorfully described: “…when in so numerous a body of friends, you neither hear nor see one good man.”

Does the American Republic have such a man? or woman?

Were Cicero an American, living today, to whom would he address his speech?  To the current administration? It is they who lay waste to the Constitution! The opposition?? Many of them are complicit.

If he were an American today, his considerable skills and energies would not be used for the preserving of one seat, or a lifelong political office. (One elected office for life? How absurd!)

He would recognize that the threat, like in his day, could not be stopped with a summary execution of the offender(s). But the other strategies are still relevant.

He would be completely acquainted with the other side’s movements. Anticipate them. Thwart them. Hem them in. Bar the way to any further degradation of the Constitution.

Does today’s Republic have such a man? or woman?

He would hound and expose every breach of faith by those in office. Expose them, and insist they be held to account. Expose the various ways they subvert the law. Expose the various ways they personally profit from holding office. Expose the inequalities and injustices of their “reign”. He would call it injustice and demand a reckoning of all such people.

As the circumstances of today would not permit banishing people who have been abusing the system for personal and political gain, Cicero would at least banish the ideas they represented from holding sway in high office — to the best of his ability.

He would oppose them, expose them, lay bare their lies and false promises or hopes. What he would NOT do, would NEVER, is “pragmatically” compromise with the very poison that threatened the life of the Republic he loved.

Does today’s Republic have such a man? or woman?

Truly, we don’t need one such man or woman. We need a nation filled with them. People who cannot tolerate the sort of games modern politicians of both stripes play.

As we watch to see whether today’s Republic has any such man or woman, we can at least be sure that tomorrow’s will. But that will require we act today.

It will require that we demand virtue of our politicians, and “throw the bums out” at the first sign of corruption. That goes double for offenders on “our” side. It will require that parents raise children to ask important questions and challenge popular thinking (a big reason I wrote A Blueprint for Government that Doesn’t Suck).

It will require we and they have high standards for ourselves and our associates, and that we redefine success, so that having “wealth without character” is seen as “failing at life”.

It will require leadership in education, pulpits, music and the arts, and other places where our culture, ethics and values are forged, not just the political process, to name only a few things.

But as we shape tomorrow, I have one last question for today:

Are YOU such a man? or woman?

Wes Walker

Wes Walker is the author of "Blueprint For a Government that Doesn't Suck". He has been lighting up since its inception in July of 2012. Follow on twitter: @Republicanuck

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