In describing the situation during the rise of Galba, Tacitus tells
us what motivated the various players' choice of emperor. Some
indeed thought of the good of the country, some of themselves. The
vulgar, he adds, as is their wont went for the best looking one.
I read that, I was at first puzzled and wondered if the same principle
applies today. Then I remembered--Victor Davis Hansen I think it was--telling a story where someone asks a Mexican-American
cleaning lady whom she favored. "Him, el Jefe" she said, indicating Trump. He is the boss. She could see that on the TV.
Strong Horse principle says that in places like the Middle East, people
tend to support whoever seems stronger--whether from fear or hope of gain.
(Fear, Machiavelli reminds us, is more reliable. I remember seeing chilling news
footage of Saddam Hussein when taking over in Iraq haranguing the
parliament, smoking a cigar and looking relaxed at the podium.
Repeatedly, some lawmaker gets escorted up the aisle by thugs--and then we hear the shots. No one resists.)
Galba and Tacitus seem to agree that under the Empire's then current chaotic and even corrupt conditions, only rule by one man could meet the challenges ahead. Even during the Republic, I think, the Romans had a mechanism for electing a temporary Dictator in desperate times.
So, is there a monarchist, non-democratic, non-republican impulse built into the very fabric of things? Trump is accused of being authoritarian and making promises he will not have authority to deliver on. Bernie and Hilary do the same, only instead of themselves they cast the government as the strong man.
My political faith is with Churchill: Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. We are in a season of revolt against the system. Those who work within it are often vilified as Quislings or worse. But our system is designed so that no one gets 100% of what he or she wants. We began by resisting tyranny and eventually built a system (using Reason more than Revelation) to prevent it. Long may we do so.