“Beware the ides of March,” the soothsayer warns Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s classic play. In real life, Plutarch wrote that Caesar had been warned by a seer that harm would come to the ruler no later than the ides of March. When Caesar had scoffed that the ides of March had come, the seer replied, “Aye, Caesar; but not gone.”
The ides of March, 44 BC, marks the assassination of Julius Caesar and arguably the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. Within a few short years, the Roman Empire was established in 27 BC, when Octavius was granted supreme power by the Roman Senate and was bestowed with the title of Augustus, becoming Rome’s first emperor.
The ides of March, or March 15, may not hold any meaning for Americans outside of literary and historical contexts, but there’s good reason to believe that Americans have already received their ides of March warning from a seer named Dwight D. Eisenhower. The outgoing president delivered it during his farewell address broadcast on January 17, 1961. Here’s an excerpt.
“Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
How unpatriotic this speech must sound to a few prominent American defense contractors and the political class which caters to them – a handful of Democrats and Republicans of the Senate, in particular.
Eisenhower’s ides of March warning for the U.S. republic echoes throughout the many years of U.S. military misadventures in Iraq, up until recently with the emergence of Isis. And doesn’t Caesar’s scoffing at the soothsayer seem more than a little like George W. Bush’s 2003 Mission Accomplished Speech from 2003?
Nearly 12 years later, the decline of our republic couldn’t be more apparent. The Inquisitr reported last year on a Princeton study that concluded that the U.S. is not an actual democracy, like we’ve all been taught, but an oligarchy, whose interests are protected by the political class. It’s worth noting the study’s conclusion for all the rock-the-voters out there keen on seeing their candidates elected to office.
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
In short, your vote really doesn’t matter most of the time.
Many Americans continue to blame either Democrats or Republicans for a myriad of critical issues – and the people who don’t vote for either party – but very few grasp the notion that Wall Street bankers and the defense industry, among a host of other powerful business lobbyists, virtually own all the key politicians who really matter. The money proves it. Always follow the money. The activists have for years. And now, academia has caught up.
So where is our “alert and knowledgeable citizenry”? We need them now. Another ides of March has come.
[Image via Wikipedia]