Picture it for a moment with me if you will: the historic crossing of the Rubicon.
Behind us, the thirteenth legion, a somewhat small company of say, 5,000 men, pause briefly. In the cold January air of a Ravenna winter, they overlook a modest, some would say, insignificant appearing river. From their silent stance, you can still hear the heavy shuffling of horses’ hooves and see a persistent vapor of warm, exhaled breath hanging at a balance between loyal soldiers and the heavens.
They all steadily await a decision.
It’s said that Caesar, reflecting on his course of action, received a sign from the gods. But that’s not the part that I find most interesting. No, the takeaway is far easier to miss, even today among the most powerful men and women in the world.
“‘Eatur,’ inquit, ‘quo deorum ostenta et inimicorum inquitas vocat.’”
Or “take we the course which the signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out.”
Indeed, the Roman state had created the inevitability of Caesar crossing the Rubicon. First, after the military reforms of Gaius Marius, by entrusting governors with imperium over their soldiers. But second, by branding an ambitious, popular commander as an outlaw.
And then placing little more than a formality in his way.
Much like the Roman state before them, liberals and the elite class today do not see how they’ve created a similar situation. Still, you’d be tempted to think that the first consideration, above, would prevent the second. But it cannot be completely lost on Trump that he too has been all but branded an enemy of the state at this point. Even if they let him off the hook, legally speaking, there’s always the real risk of financial ruin to consider.
Nevertheless, for those of us paying attention, you cannot ignore the small pieces moving around in the background.
On the one hand, there have been a number of changes in the chain of command. Plus, Trump’s rhetoric seems to have changed in the past few months. Of course, there’s also the 2018 Executive Order and the Navarro report. And having a victory like this one stolen has to sting.
Will that be enough to march ahead and cross the river?
Even so, you have to wonder if liberals, transported to 49 BC, would also decry the significance of the Rubicon as merely another meaningless conspiracy theory.
What does have me worried though is that Trump certainly boasts too much on social media. Claims to the contrary, the economy was not experiencing the best decade ever. Nor is it roaring back to life. Follow-through has often been meager and unimpressive in contrast to the bluster of the campaign trail. And trusting the plan has appeared to look more like interviews with the establishment than anything else, even as his supporters faced physical violence.
My conservative friends are sure not to appreciate me pointing this out. But it’s important to recognize where we are and who we expect may be crossing the Rubicon. And, to their credit, many of them know that Trump is an imperfect man. And more a symbol paving the way for others.
Regardless, it’s also important to consider all the possibilities in this game.
For example, perhaps the elite keep him around as a neutered boogeyman. He gets to preserve some of his wealth and live out his life in comfort. And they get their villain to rally their support for technocratic nightmares. Although, in this scenario, he could always pose a risk, not unlike the establishment poses for him.
However, I think it telling that
the VP intends to be out-of-town immediately following the electoral session. *(UPDATE: It looks like the media may have only been, rather disingenuously, speculating about the VP being out of town).* And Trump himself has said that there will be no martial law. At the same time, we cannot ignore the few elected officials saying they’ll spark a contested election during the counting of the votes.
And really, why would a commander call forward the legions to march on DC that very day? Would he actually put all those people at risk if he intended on crossing the Rubicon? Or are they merely to press the challenge?
While I had hoped this piece today would provide more clarity on what I believe will happen in the next weeks, I’m left with a lingering sense of fog instead. And perhaps that mist is not unlike the vapor in the air from warm bodies all those thousands of years ago, a fog of war in a volatile time.
Where and when do decisive men venture to act? Must they wait until the world forces their hand? Or for the approval of lesser delegations? Who among you would take the first step?
Perhaps, in the end, most merely wait for someone, someday, to inevitably rise, pause, and then speak those almost insignificant sounding words…
Iacta alia esto. Let the die be cast.
And in so doing, dare us all to cross beyond the failed state of our ceremonial republic.