The ides of November are come… and gone, yet Caesar did not fall. He wanders the White House now, clad in what some call a bathrobe but must surely more resemble a toga. Historians have often wondered what would have happened if Caesar had not been betrayed and instead got to follow through on his vast ambitions of empire. In Donald Trump’s presidency, they may behold a new third act in an old drama.
In the previous post on this topic, I laid out the logical reasons for a very particular type of Democrat to shift Republican in 2016. That small demographic ended up being the decisive swing vote in the election in the key states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. There is much to be said about the failure of the Democrats to keep those votes, but they are not listed among the dramatis personae in this play any more: Republicans have ultimate power in all aspects of government, or will do soon in the case of the judiciary. America’s system does not produce a singular leader of the opposition at the best of times, and right now that role is being filled by the mob, milling about in the marketplace listening to orators cry from the pulpit of the cruelest of issues.
Like Caesar, Trump talks of conquest, as in his recent address to the CIA where he hinted at a second chance at securing oil riches. For Caesar the obsession was with Parthia, for Trump it centres on Iran and Iraq… which is the same place. Caesar had plans to purge the Republican Senate; Trump has been largely ignoring them so far in favour of dictatorial decrees, and doesn’t seem to need the Senators or share their interests, though the real battles on that front are yet to come. Their shared objective is to bypass all societal institutions to speak directly to the mob to gain his legitimacy.
The mob, however, is already against Trump, or at least are losing what passion they had for him. Mark Antony told them that Caesar’s lands were theirs, whereas Trump is showing no such charity with his own assets, or that of his fellow billionaires. Those angry white men from swing states can also let loose their frustration on Trump if he doesn’t institute the herrenvolk-style largesse they crave. If polling isn’t to your taste, the Women’s March was a mob of three million whereas a recent pro-Trump demonstration outside his tower attracted three dozen.
Assuming that a modern Brutus is not merely biding his time to strike at a more opportune moment to restore elite control, it is the mob to whom Trump will answer. Once you start hollowing out societal institutions like he is doing, anything becomes possible. That includes many scenarios of mischief for would-be emperors.