Beware the Ides of March

Posted on 09 March 2013

In the history of mankind, many memorable quotations have been recorded.  Among these were –


“Give me liberty or give me death.”
(Patrick Henry)


 “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.”
(General Israel Putnam at the Battle of Bunker Hill)


“Where in the hell are all these Indians coming from?”
(General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, his “Last Stand”)


Few statements, however, have been as applicable to the state of current U.S. affairs as are the words spoken to Julius Caesar by a soothsayer just prior to his assassination in 44 B.C. – “Beware the Ides of March.”


The Ides, thought to have been the date of the full moon in the original Roman lunar calendar, fell on either the 13th or 15th of any particular month.  In March, that day was the 15th.  Since the assassination of Julius Caesar on that date, the phrase has become associated with the assassination of any dictator.


Fast-forwarding more than two millennia to our current time, Americans find themselves facing another warning to “beware of the Ides of March.”  This warning, however, comes not from a soothsayer, but from the very halls of Congress.


After narrowly averting a plunge over the fiscal cliff in the waning days of 2012, Congress and our President were unable to reach agreement preventing the Federal government from incurring significant spending cuts on March 1st – regardless of the phase of the moon on that particular day.


In February 2013, Black History Month was replaced by the Congressional version of the “blame game” as each political party tried to place responsibility for the conceptualization and passage of the sequestration law on the other.  Designed as a way to force both parties to come to agreement on deficit reduction, the forced cuts enacted under 2012’s Budget Control Act have been triggered and, absent Congressional action, will be fully enacted over the course of the next several months.


Congressional inaction and the institution of the sequestration cuts has left the general public with the uneasy feeling that no one is running our government.  Finger-pointing, name-calling, and fear-mongering have supplanted reasoned public discourse in our nation’s capital.


It’s time for “we the people” to speak out.  We can’t depend on a government that plays games or looks down the green fairways of indifference.  Our chosen representatives are already in campaign mode for mid-term elections that are still almost two years away.  For taxpayers, who will be footing the bill no matter who assumes power, this is a no-win situation.


George Washington, in his farewell address, warned of the dangers of political parties when he stated that –


“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”


Washington’s words have proven prescient, as each successive Congressional and Presidential election currently demonstrates.  As America is losing its leadership status in the world, the liberties guaranteed citizens by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being eroded, and the average American is becoming poorer and more reliant on the largesse of a bloated federal government, political leaders are enriching themselves and creating a new aristocracy in America.


Today, America is facing its Ides of March.  Will our leaders place our nation’s future above partisan politics?  Will the three branches of our government act to preserve our Constitution?  Or, will we follow the path of the Roman Empire?  I leave it with you.


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