Hear us out.
The U.S. Senate has made its judgment in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, acquitting the president. Fifty two of 53 senators in the Republican majority voted to acquit the president on the abuse of power charge and all 53 Republican senators voted to acquit on the obstruction of Congress charge.
All 47 Democratic senators voted to convict the president on both charges. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican voting to convict for abuse of power.
The Republican senators’ speedy exoneration of Trump marks perhaps the most dramatic step in their capitulation to the president over the past three years.
That process, as I wrote in The Conversation last fall, recalls the ancient Roman senate’s compliance with the autocratic rule of the emperors and its transformation into a body largely reliant on the emperors’ whims.
Along with the senatorial fealty that was again on display, there was another development that links the era of the Roman Republic’s transformation into an autocratic state with the ongoing political developments in the United States. It’s a development that may point to where the country is headed.
Leader is the state
Trump’s lawyers argued that the president’s personal position is inseparable from that of the nation itself. This is similar to the notion that took hold during the ascendancy of the man known as Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, who was in power from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14.
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