Obama or Cicero?
It’s no contest for me. I am not going to be listening Barack Obama tell us how much more of our money he wants to take to pay for his fiscal incontinence. My cardiologist, worried about my blood pressure, forbids me to listen to Barack Obama in general. A “State of the (dis)Union” address would send him (and probably me) into orbit. Who is he going to insult tonight? The Supreme Court again? No, they gave him the monstrosity of ObamaCare. Maybe it will be some prominent supporter of the Second Amendment or a high profile advocate of limited government or economic growth. I just can;t bear it, and, besides, it will be impossible to escape the cataract of commentary before Barack Obama’s teleprompter’s go dark. Instead, I am going to curl up with Anthony Trollope’s splendid biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero. As I mentioned here recently, I have been reading around in Cicero a bit recently. The parallels between his corrupt times and our own are painful and inescapable. “Whoever governs a country,” Cicero wrote in On Duties, “must first see that citizens keep what belongs to them and that the state does not take from individuals what is rightfully theirs. . . . Indeed, the chief reason we have a constitution and government at all is to protect individual property. Even though nature led people to come together into communities in the first place, they did so with the hope that they could keep what rightfully belonged to them.”
Are you listening, Barack Obama? Of course not. You are too busy spending, spending, spending, then taxing, taxing, taxing, to listen. But others are listening. It won’t be long before thinkers like Cicero are once again in the public eye. And not only Cicero, but other Romans and Roman practices. I would not be at all surprised if the custom of the custom of damnatio memoriae, for example, made a sudden come back.