Trump. Donald, Melania, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, Lara, Tiffany. The cavalcade of Trumps during the Republican National Convention conjures up the fantastic possibility of an imperial Trump Dynasty.
President Donald Trump, succeeded by Donald Jr, then by Ivanka ... with her vice president, Jared, ready to succeed her? Unless, as Donald Trump recently suggested, suspend the Constitutional limitation on the presidency to two terms. That might confine the succession from Donald to Donald Jr., then on to the most gifted of the Trump grandchildren.
Impossible? Tell it to the Romans.
As Jason Daley wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: "The U.S. Constitution owes a huge debt to ancient Rome. … Leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison read the historian Polybius, who laid out one of the clearest descriptions of the Roman Republic's constitution, where representatives of various factions and social classes checked the power of the elites and the power of the mob. It's not surprising that in the United States' nascent years, comparisons to ancient Rome were common. And to this day, Rome, whose 482-year-long Republic, bookended by several hundred years of monarchy and 1,500 years of imperial rule, is still the longest the world has seen."
Interesting. America's great seal bears the (Latin!) motto "Novo Ordo Seclorum." New Order of the Ages. America was constituted to overthrow an imperium going back to Rome with liberal republicanism.
We did so, and splendidly.
For a while.
Is that era over?
Julius Caesar ended the Roman republic. He infamously assumed dictatorial powers and was then assassinated by those more remembered for treachery than for heroism. Then, Gaius Octavius took Julius's patronymic "Caesar," coupled it with the epithet Augustus, and, over four years, made himself emperor in all but name.
Rome thrived under Caesar Augustus. He ruled for 40 years, succeeded by the less distinguished, some scandalous, Caesars of the Julio-Claudian family dynasty. Such was Augustus's prestige that "Caesar" echoed through millennia as "Kaiser" and "Czar."
How might this be relevant to America?
On July 4, 2016 I wrote a column with the nicely understated headline Independence Day 2016, The Death Spiral of the Republic, "The Chaos that Caused Trump." It began by recounting: "The close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787: A lady [one Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia] asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy[?] — A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it[.]"
America has kept its republic for almost a quarter millennium. Short of Rome's. Yet impressive. If "you" – the American people – do not care keep "it" – a republic – cheer up! You are not alone. Throne and Altar "conservatives" such as the American Principles Project and Dark Enlightenment Neo-Reactionaries appear sympathetic to putting our sclerotic, degenerate, republic out of its misery.
Replacing it with something more, well, authoritative.
Authoritarian, even. Meanwhile….
Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post contemplates Donald Trump Jr. and The future of Trumpism: He upended expectations four years ago. What is he now?: "To prepare for his convention speech four years ago, Don Jr. practiced each day for a week. When he took the lectern, he started by praising his wonderful wife and mentioning their five children — and then identified himself as the son of 'a great man.' The political world was dazzled. 'Poised and focused,' wrote the New York Post's John Podhoretz, calling it a speech Trump Sr. would never have been able to pull off. 'I think I watched the speech of a future politician there,' said David Chalian, CNN's political director. 'In fact, a much better politician than his own father,' added Democratic strategist Maria Cardona."
Jason Zengerle, writing in the New York Times Magazine, devoted a feature to Donald Trump Jr. Is Ready. But for What, Exactly? Of all the president's children, he has the strongest connection to the politics, voters, and online disinformation ecosystem that put his father in the White House. What will he do with it?: "So it is one of the many surprises of Trump's presidency that Trump Jr. has grown into arguably his father's most valuable political weapon. … 'Don Jr. represents the emotional center of the MAGA universe,' says Jason Miller, a senior adviser on Trump's re-election campaign. Before the pandemic, he was crisscrossing the country as his father's most-requested campaign surrogate. Since the coronavirus curtailed his travel plans, he has become one of the Republican Party's top virtual fund-raisers. His Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts have a combined 11 million followers and are vital cogs in the Republican messaging machine."
A few old guard conservatives, like me, prefer the principles of the American founding. Notwithstanding:
A Trump Dynasty bodes.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.