In Search of an Historical Metaphor

I am crafting my list of essential reads for politics and policy in America (I’m calling it the Bull Moose List) with a view to sharing it on July 4 if all goes well.

I have just added to that list Cullen Murphy’s controversial Are We Rome? I know that Murphy’s thesis – that there are enough similarities between us and Rome in the fading days of the empire that we should take a hard look at ourselves – was inspired not a little by Bushian/Neocon overreach abroad when he wrote in the mid-aughties. His analysis was nuanced and his verdict equivocal.

I cannot but wonder how the book would come out today. Bush may well have been America’s Diocletian, but Donald Trump is looking increasingly like the Nero that only a decadent empire could raise to leadership.

The question that presses on me is this: is America more like Rome today than it was eleven years ago?

I fear the answer. But I will let you know more when I finish Murphy’s book.

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